compensation Articles

The Kingdom Reforms (Part II)

Saudi Arabia has announced a spate of cuts around compensation within the government and the public sector. While there may not be immediate ramifications of these curbs for the private sector, firms irrespective of their ownership structure, should be wary of these changing times. In this second part of the series, we explore what organizations in the Kingdom could do to effectively adapt to these circumstances.

The Troubled Waters for Retail Banking

Incentive opportunities and the mix of pay continue to be examined as the effectiveness, administrative burden, and risks of low dollar programs are under scrutiny in retail banking.

Implications of New FLSA Minimum Salaries and DOL Fiduciary Ruling

It's certainly not a stretch to call 2016 a very challenging year for HR / Compensation professionals in the financial services industry as they respond to two sweeping regulatory changes: the Department of Labor's new fiduciary standard for Financial Advisors and new FLSA minimum salary rate for exempt employees.

Regulatory Update: Solvency II – Remuneration Requirements

Our consultants have summarized the Supervisory Statement (SS) on Solvency II remuneration requirements, released today by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), and what it means for insurance firms in the UK.

Corporate Titles: An outdated concept or a building block for excellence?

As we look across a set of industries—Financial Services, Technology, Fin Tech, and Consulting—we see dramatically different approaches to job architecture in general, and the use of corporate titles in particular.

Incentive-based Compensation Arrangements: A Summary of Dodd-Frank Section 956

After five years, the interagency task force has re-proposed Section 956 of Dodd-Frank. This proposal is clearly more prescriptive and covers all financial institutions with balance sheet assets over $1 billion that are regulated by the six agencies.

Competing in Hong Kong

The Competition Ordinance (Commencement) (no 2.) Notice 2015 was published in the Gazette on 17 July 2015, which declares 14 December 2015 as the effective date for the rule. This Ordinance, first outlined in 2012, restricts four types of conduct that are described as anti-competition - pricing manipulation, market division/allocation, output restriction or control, and bid rigging. Though not specifically targeted at employment matters, it is clear that the Competition Ordinance (CO) restricts practices like wage-fixing, formal and informal sharing of pay or benefits related information with competitors, industry-wide negotiations that impact wages and employment terms, and no-poaching agreements.

Incentive Pay for Support Staff: Should Banks Consider Moving to Salary Only

As firms look to reduce costs, the topic of how infrastructure or support staff should be paid is frequently raised. A number of firms have broached the topic of removing incentive pay for some or all of these employees and compensating them on a pure salary basis. Other firms, who have moved compensation from variable to fixed over the past 5 years are now unhappy with their rising fixed cost base – not just for revenue generators, but for support staff as well.

Re-Aligning Performance / Reward in Investment Banking

2001 to 2007 was a remarkable time for the investment banking business. Firms felt they could do little wrong, and saw a steady increase in share price, revenue and compensation spend. A new set of professionals came of age in this era and it now appears that some of the rigor in rationalizing pay versus contribution has fallen by the wayside. In this article, we will focus on the investment banking advisory business, although some of the thinking may also apply to other lines of business in the securities sector.

Shareholders at the Top 50 Are Getting Tougher

Right or wrong, the public and political perception that undue risk taking and its link to pay was central to the financial crisis has fueled a resurgence in the discussions around executive pay. Those discussions and associated headlines are further stimulated by Dodd-Frank's requirement that shareholders be given their say on the topic. As top banks continue to face higher scrutiny on executive pay, shareholders have not been shy of giving the "thumbs down."

Conducting a Comprehensive Classification Review

Organizations, after all, make headlines almost daily, when they become the defendant in an employee lawsuit or the target of a wage and hour investigation. The price tag for such mistakes can be astronomic. In the wake of a U.S. Department of Labor investigation last year, for example, Farmers Insurance agreed to pay more than $1.5 million in back pay owed to employees for unpaid overtime. IBM settled similar allegations for $65 million.

Reforming Wall Street Pay

The noise around "Wall Street" pay is deafening. The industry, its employees and the regulators are under daily attack. The criticisms, while loud, are not particularly constructive. The purpose of this paper is to separate fact from fiction, to distinguish the naive from the realistic and to level set the kinds of reforms that are both necessary and practical.

Will There Be a Lasting Reset in Pay Levels?

As banks begin to make their year-end pay decisions, it is clear that incentive pay for employees across investment banking, equities and fixed income will decrease at most firms, particularly the largest ones. Veterans of compensation management know that pay tends to be cyclical and closely aligned to business performance, and that it takes a discerning eye to differentiate between a typical cyclical variance and an actual reset, which is far less common.

Study Results: Market Impact on Incentive Compensation Trends

McLagan conducted an online survey in November and December 2010 regarding current and planned performance metrics and payment vehicles at community and regional banks. The intent was to sample the latest thinking in light of the current economic and legislative environment. Sruvey questions covered 2010 and planned 2011 incentive plans

Study Results: 2011 Salary Incentive Planning

In order to help clients prepare for 2011 salary increases, we conducted a free flash survey in late September and early October of 2010 to get a sense of what banks are planning for their 2011 salary budgets. The 97 banks that participated in the survey were asked if they planned to give salary increases in 2011; and if so, what percentage increase they were budgeting, and how the increase differed from their 2010 increases (greater, less or the same).

The Perils of Pre-Pays

Over the years, some companies have actively managed the timing of incentive compensation in anticipation of tax rates changing. While there has been a fair amount of speculation around this recently, to date, there has been more discussion than any real action on this front. 

Infrastructure Bonus Pool Funding:

During the last 12 months, pay structures for bank staff have changed dramatically. There have been significant increases in base salaries for some firms and changes to the delivery of incentive compensation. The decision making for these changes has been directed at perceived risk takers in the front offices of banks. However, these changes have also impacted the back offices, i.e., the infrastructure functions. As firms are now beginning the planning process for year-end compensation, should they also reassess the way that the bonus pool for infrastructure functions is calculated and distributed?

Trends in Equity Approaches

This survey examines whether or not banks use equity as part of their overall compensation program. For banks that use equity, we present information regarding what type of equity they grant, the company, individual, etc. performance measures upon which Banks base the equity grants, how frequently grants are made, and vesting.

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act

On July 21, 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”) was signed into law. This legislation of more than 2,300 pages includes a number of provisions affecting executive compensation and corporate governance. While a majority of the compensation provisions apply to all public companies, a few select provisions apply to all financial institutions (public or private) with assets of $1 billion and more. This client alert summarizes these provisions and the associated effective dates.

Board of Directors Compensation Practices

Given the state of the banking industry over the past twenty-four months, we felt it was time to examine if and how board of directors’ compensation plans were changing. In this flash survey, we explore the prevalence of increases and decreases in overall board of directors’ compensation, retainer, or meeting attendance compensation as well as committee retainer and attendance compensation.

2010 Compensation Plans: A Year in Flux

Mandatory deferral plans were never particularly interesting. Firms were preoccupied with being “competitive with the street”. There wasn’t a great deal of variety and innovation. Employees griped about having some portion of their bonuses deferred, and then often sat back and watched the value of their awards escalate. Of course, that hasn’t always been the case in the last couple of years.

Country Specific Compensation Regulation

Given the multitude of regulatory agencies that global financial institutions have to deal with, we thought it would be helpful to summarize the latest requirements as we understand them. The table below is designed to give you an update "at a glance". It is not comprehensive and only covers the major economies. We will update this as we become aware of changes.  

Holistic Risk and Competitive Review of Incentive Plans

In McLagan’s previous Alert, “What Do They Mean by Unreasonable Risk?”, we considered the challenge of defining unreasonable risk and who should decide that after the fact the risks taken were unreasonable.

Starting Over: The Rebuilding of Executive Pay Structures in Financial Instituations

For a number of reasons—government scrutiny, shareholder backlash, undernourished balance sheets—bank management and boards are hearing the call to reform executive pay. Many are convinced that while pay did not cause the financial meltdown, it certainly exacerbated the problem. This has lead to a genuine interest in transforming executive pay. The devil, of course, is in the details. 

Salary Increases: Separating Fact from Speculation

There is a lot of noise in the market and in the press that seems to suggestthat many banks and financial services firms of all types are increasing salaries broadly – a sentiment that is reinforced by those lobbying for such action. The topic is emotionally charged and like most market events, the perception may often create its own reality.

Considering Salary Increases

​There has been a lot of talk about increasing salaries in financial institutions. This is particularly surprising given that relative performance is, for the most part, declining.

The Brave New World of Executive Compensation

This is a year like no other in the world of executive compensation.  Everything has turned on its head and the challenges for professionals in the field are staggering.  The bad news is that things will never again be like they were before and we are going to have to get used to it.  The good news is that we have an opportunity to, within very real constraints, reinvent executive compensation practices in this critical industry.

Bonus Plans within Public Pension Funds: Should They Stay or Go?

Taxpayers, beneficiaries and politicians are up in arms about paying bonuses to public fund investment staff during this economic crisis. For some, it is unconscionable to pay bonuses when pension benefits are being cut, other state workers are on salary freezes or work furloughs, and AUM levels have been decimated by the market meltdown.

2009 Compensation Plans: An Early Look

In the 2008 / 2009 bonus process, we have seen significant changes to deferral plans, most notably, substantially more compensation deferred. Employee perception is a mixed bag: with stock prices depressed across the market, this may be a time when employees see more potential upside in performance driven / long-term awards; however, in some cases, employees have seen historic awards lose value, and may be skeptical as to their value proposition.

View From the Top: What Should We Do About Executive Pay?

Boards and senior leaders of financial institutions from around the world are struggling to decide what to do about pay this year-end, and time is running out. After an impressive run of staggering business results and pay to go with it—everything came tumbling down. Now is the time that compensation/remuneration committees must decide how and what to pay top executives this year. While there are few benchmarks to guide these decisions, there are many loud and conflicting voices expressing opinions from the sidelines. Traditional tools like surveys, payout ratios and market trends provide useful intelligence, but there is even more to consider.

 

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