Median director pay for large companies went up 4% in 2018, from $260,000 to $270,000, according to the latest ClearBridge 100 report. The ClearBridge study, which looks at 100 companies in the S&P 500 index selected to roughly approximate the industry and size composition of S&P 500 companies, found that director pay largely consists of cash retainers and equity grants, with only 13% of companies offering meeting fees (down from 15% last year). Other study findings include:
- Meetings. Median number of board meetings was eight meetings per year, with a median of seven Audit Committee meetings, six Compensation Committee meetings, and four Nominating and Governance Committee meetings.
- Compensation Limits. Over half (56%) of companies surveyed have implemented a director compensation limit, reflecting increased concerns regarding director pay litigation. The most prevalent type of limit was a fixed-dollar equity limit (43%) but total compensation limits are also on the rise (37%).
- Equity. Average cash/equity split was about 38% cash and 62% equity, most commonly time-vested restricted stock (62%) followed by deferred share units (25%). The most prevalent vesting period is one year (40%).
- Stock Ownership. The vast majority (88%) of companies require a specific ownership guideline, with the most common multiple being five times the annual board retainer (85%). Most companies (85%) give directors five years to achieve this target.
- Stock Holding. A minority of companies (18%) require directors to hold stock for a certain period of time before selling; among these, 40% require stock to be held until retirement. A quarter of companies offer equity with a mandatory deferral feature.