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Board Pay Reaches a Quarter Million Dollars

REDWOOD CITY, CA (December 05, 2018) —For the fifth consecutive year, the median annual retainer given to directors increased, topping out at $250,000 in 2017, according to the new Equilar Director Pay Trends report, which features independent commentary from Meridian Compensation Partners.

From 2013 to 2017—the five years included in the study—median annual retainers increased by $35,000, or 16.3%.

“A majority of the median annual retainer—60%--consists of equity, as the trends in recent years have shown,” said Alex Knowlton, Senior Analyst and Managing Editor of the report. “Because of this, shareholders and other investors have been intently watching board pay as a way to check the compensation that board members set for themselves.”

Over 98% of Equilar 500 companies included at least some portion of cash in the median annual retainer in 2017, while a mere 7% of companies used options. This lack of option prevalence falls in line with the compensation trends observed for executives, as companies have continued to distance themselves from stock options.

“Similar to high performing executives, the most talented directors have multiple board options and limited time,” said Jerrold Rosema, Senior Consultant at Meridian Compensation Partners. “Pay is not often the key criteria for potential board members but companies must nonetheless stay competitive if they want to attract the best and brightest directors.”

While the annual retainer has continued to increase, the same can’t be said for meeting fees. Only 10.6% of companies awarded meeting fees in 2017, a 59.1% decrease from just five years prior. Additionally, when these fees were prevalent, a majority fell within the $1,000 to $2,000 per meeting range. Only 5.7% of meeting fees had a value exceeding that of $3,000 per meeting.

About the Report

Director Pay Trends, an Equilar publication, analyzes the compensation of boards and committees across the Equilar 500—the 500 largest, by reported revenue, U.S.-headquartered companies trading on one of the major U.S. stock exchanges (NYSE, Nasdaq or NYSE MKT (formerly AMEX)), adjusted to approximate the industry sector mix of similar large-cap indices. Fiscal years are defined by proxy filings between July 1st and June 30th. Meridian Compensation Partners offered independent commentary with color and context on company structure of compensation for their boards of directors.

About Equilar

Equilar is the leading provider of Board Intelligence Solutions. Its data-driven platforms, BoardEdge and Insight, provide tools for board recruiting, business development, executive compensation and shareholder engagement. Companies of all sizes, including 70% of the Fortune 500 and institutional investors representing over trillion in assets, rely on Equilar for their most important boardroom decisions. Equilar also hosts industry-leading board education symposiums, conducts comprehensive custom research services and publishes award-winning thought leadership. Founded in 2000, Equilar is cited regularly by Associated Press, Bloomberg, CNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other leading media outlets. Visit to learn more.

About Meridian Compensation Partners

Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC provides executive compensation consulting and corporate governance services to over 550 public and private corporations. With 11 offices and 60 associates in the U.S. and Canada, our services include board level advisory services, compensation program design, and market intelligence on executive pay and governance matters.

For more information, contact:

Amit Batish
Equilar, Inc.

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