SEC Executive Compensation Rules Prompt Low Expectations

September 6, 2006 ( - A majority of corporate human resources and compensation directors think new rules to rein in executive pay will have little effect on company performance or salary levels, according to a recent Watson Wyatt Worldwide poll.

The Watson Wyatt poll of nearly 200 executives found that 28% say the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules will dwindle executive pay levels, while just over half (54%) say the rules will have no effect at all.

Other findings of the Watson Wyatt poll include:

  • 3% say the rules will lead to higher pay levels
  • 15% say they were unsure of the effects of the rules
  • 73% say the rules will not improve corporate performance
  • 11% say the rules will better corporate performance.

The poll also revealed that only 5% of those polled plan to change their programs. Nearly half (49%) are not planning changes, and 45% haven’t decided.

The SEC passed its most sweeping new executive compensation rules since 1999 in July, which call for more extensive disclosure (See SEC Approves Updated Executive Comp Disclosure Rules ). The changes require more detailed reporting from companies about the compensation of their top five executives.

Some of the additional requirements also updated disclosure rules for “golden parachutes” and other benefits for executives who are let go.