Based on proxies filed through early May, we have observed a strong increase in CEO pay in FY2021 across the S&P 500 and Russell 3000 (excl. S&P 500) universes. Median Total Summary Compensation Table (SCT) CEO pay for S&P 500 companies is up 9 percent for the year and has increased almost 40 percent in the Russell 3000 (excl. S&P 500). Say-on-Pay votes held as of May 9indicate thatinvestor support for CEO packages continues to erode at many companies. Median support for Say-on-Pay at S&P 500 companies is on track to decline for an eighth consecutive year. These results suggest a growing disconnect between board determinations of CEO compensation and what shareholders are willing to accept.
CEO Pay Trends
The following chart illustrates median CEO total pay as disclosed in the SCT for S&P 500 and Russell 3000 (excl. S&P 500) companies:
Median CEO total SCT pay rose by 9.2 percent for S&P 500 companies and 39.5 percent for Russell 3000 (excl. S&P 500) companies in FY2021. These increases were largely driven by significantly higher bonus payouts in FY2021 relative to FY2020 and continued increases in Long-Term Incentive grant values for executives.
The following chart illustrates the median support for Say-on-Pay proposals since 2019 for S&P 500 and Russell 3000 (excl. S&P 500) companies:
Investor support for Say-on-Pay proposals continues to erode for S&P 500 companies – median support as of mid-May was 92.2 percent, which would represent the lowest level since votes became mandatory in 2011. However, proposals at Russell 3000 (excl. S&P 500) companies continue to receive strong backing from shareholders – median support as of mid-May was 96.1 percent, which is consistent with the levels achieved in 2019 – 2021.
This post comes to us from Institutional Shareholder Services. It is based on the firm’s report, “S&P 500 CEO Pay Proposals Face Growing Investor Disapproval,” dated May 18, 2022, and available here.