Category: Executive Compensation and Disclosure

Say-on-Pay Voting Frequency ― The Financial CHOICE Act Adds Uncertainty to the Process

Kimberley R. Anderson

The House passed the Financial CHOICE Act on Thursday as part of the new administration’s bid to overhaul Dodd-Frank. It is not expected to get through the Senate in its current form, but it does provide an interesting read. While current disclosure requirements have become too lengthy and cumbersome in many respects, the proposed change to Say-on-Pay voting frequency requires a materiality determination that may...

SEC Charges CEO with Failing to Disclose Perks to Shareholders

Cam C. Hoang

Companies frequently wrestle with perks in their proxy executive compensation disclosure. Whether an item constitutes a perk often requires judgment based on the facts and circumstances,¹ and disclosure may elicit intense, public scrutiny over what amounts to a relatively small percentage of an executive’s total compensation package.² From time to time, the SEC issues a cautionary tale that perks need to be accounted for and reported...

The House Financial Services Committee to Hold a Hearing on Financial CHOICE Act 2.0 this Wednesday – Here’s a Summary of Governance and Executive Compensation Provisions

Cam C. Hoang

While passage in the House seems likely, the Financial Choice Act may undergo significant changes before it may pass in the Senate. Here is a summary of certain governance and executive compensation provisions that are included in the discussion draft: Prohibit Universal Proxy Ballots. Currently, companies are not required to use a universal proxy ballot in the event of a proxy contest, so shareholders receive...

Unexpected Risks of Early Exercise Incentive Stock Options

Jamison Klang

Companies that permit the grant of early exercise incentive stock options (“ISOs”) do so primarily to limit the impact of the alternative minimum tax (“AMT”). However, due to fairly counterintuitive tax regulations, structuring options in this fashion can expose optionees to negative tax consequences in the event of a disqualifying disposition. Read more about the tax effects of early exercise ISOs and how the tax...

ISS Releases New and Updated FAQs on U.S. Equity Compensation Plans

Cam C. Hoang

Last Friday, ISS released new and updated FAQS on U.S. Equity Compensation Plans, as summarized below. These FAQs provide new and updated guidance on ISS’s evaluation of equity compensation plan proposals, including treatment of performance-based awards in burn rate calculations, bundling of plan amendment proposals, updates to ISS’s Equity Plan Scorecard (EPSC) policies, and the EPSC as it applies to newly public companies. Since 2015,...

Do Your Confidentiality Clauses Expressly Allow Whistleblowing?

Christopher L. Doerksen

Over the last few months, the SEC has obtained a string of cease and desist orders against SEC reporting companies, both domestic and foreign, to enforce an often overlooked rule adopted under Dodd-Frank.  Rule 21F-17 provides that “[n]o person may take any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the [SEC] staff about a possible securities law violation, including enforcing, or threatening to...

ISS Releases Executive Summary of 2017 Proxy Voting Policies

Cam C. Hoang

ISS has published an executive summary of 2017 updates to its benchmark proxy voting policies for the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific regions.  The updated policies will generally be applied to shareholder meetings on or after February 1, 2017. U.S. policy changes are summarized below, and companies should keep them in mind as they consider policies on director compensation, dividend and vesting policies for stock awards,...

New CDIs Help Issuers With Pay Ratio Disclosure, A Little

Whitney Holmes

On October 19th, the SEC released five new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (“CDIs”) relating to the upcoming “Pay Ratio Disclosure” requirements in Item 402(u) of Regulation S-K. Item 402(u) Pay Ratio Disclosure requirements, mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, require each covered public company to make annual disclosure of the ratio of its principal executive officer’s total annual compensation to...

Nasdaq Doesn’t Require Shareholder Approval of Equity Compensation Plan Amendments to Increase Tax Withholding

Kimberley R. Anderson

Material amendments to equity compensation plans require shareholder approval under Nasdaq rules. Last week, Nasdaq posted a new FAQ #1269 regarding amendments to equity compensation plans to increase the tax withholding rate.  FAQ #1269 is set forth below. “Generally, an amendment to increase the withholding rate to satisfy tax obligations would not be considered a material amendment to an equity compensation plan. Allowing the holder...

SEC Releases Proposed Rules on Incentive-Based Compensation for Investment Advisers and Registered Broker Dealers

Cam C. Hoang

The SEC has issued its proposed rules on incentive-based compensation for investment advisers and registered broker dealers:https://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2016-89.html. Comments are due by July 22, 2016.  The rules are part of a joint interagency rulemaking required by Dodd-Frank Act Section 956, which directs the agencies to prohibit incentive-based compensation arrangements that encourage inappropriate risk-taking: (1) by providing an executive officer, employee, director, or principal shareholder of the...