ISA study finds no link between executive pay and performance

Women severely underrepresented among executives.

money (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There is no link between the level of executive compensation and stock performance, according to a study the Israel Securities Authority released Sunday.
The study, which examined salaries at public companies from 2012 to 2014, found that company value was growing faster (29 percent) than executive pay (12%).
Still, the level of executive pay, which boards often argue are crucial to get the best talent in a competitive market, was found to be irrelevant to a company’s actual performance.
“I’m disturbed by the fact that there is no clear link between pay and company performance, and that the company salaries are more influenced by what industry counterparts earned than on the company’s performance,” said ISA chairman Shmuel Hauser.
The evidence, he noted, showed that regulatory changes and the public outcry over high compensation were having an effect on executive pay. The study found that the maximum level of executive pay at the biggest companies in the country had dropped some 10% since 2012.
But even while the very highest earners took a hit, on average, executive pay kept going up. In 2014, average executive pay was nearly NIS 1.7 million a year, up from around NIS 1.5m. in 2012. In all, 11% of executives earned more than NIS 3.5m. a year.
But as Hauser noted, average executive pay varied greatly from sector to sector, hinting that competition within the specific sector was a greater determinant of pay than performance. Executive pay was highest in the finance industry, where it reached NIS 3m. on average in 2013. In the industrial sector, it hovered at around half that, while oil and gas executives earned a (relatively) paltry NIS 800,000 in 2014.
In comparison with similar countries, the pay structure in Israel was similar; about 50% of it was fixed, and 50% based on variable compensation (such as stock options, bonuses and so forth). In the US, just 34% of compensation came from fixed salaries, while in Sweden it was 80%.
The study looked into gender inequality, and found that women represented just 13% of those receiving executive packages. Male executives earned 52% more than women, on average. Just 4% of companies on the TA-100 had women directing their boards, and a 10th had a female CEO. Those figures were nearly double that of the rest of the companies listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (2% female directors, 6% female CEOs).
The gender wage gap was “considerably more serious than that in the economy as a whole,” said Dr. Gitit Gur-Gershgoren, who headed the study.
One oft-cited reason that women earn less than men on average is that they are not promoted to senior positions nearly as often.