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The Economic Consequences of Proxy Advisor Say-on-Pay Voting Policies

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  • Larcker, David F.

    (Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford University)

  • McCall, Allan L.

    (Stanford University)

  • Ormazabal, Gaizka

    (University of Navarra)

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    Abstract

    This paper examines changes in executive compensation programs made by firms in response to proxy advisory firm say-on-pay voting policies. Using proprietary models, proxy advisory firms, primarily Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass, Lewis & Co., provide institutional shareholders with a "for" (positive) or "against" (negative) recommendation on the required management say-on-pay proposal in the annual proxy statement. Analyzing a large sample of firms from the Russell 3000 that are subject to the initial say-on-pay vote mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, we find three important results. First, proxy advisory firm recommendations have a substantive impact on say-on-pay voting outcomes. Second, a significant number of firms change their compensation programs in the time period before the formal shareholder vote in a manner consistent with the features known to be favored by proxy advisory firms apparently in an effort to avoid a negative recommendation. Third, the stock market reaction to these compensation program changes is statistically negative. Thus, the proprietary models used by proxy advisory firms for say-on-pay recommendations appear to induce boards of directors to make choices that decrease shareholder value.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stanford University, Graduate School of Business in its series Research Papers with number 2105.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2105

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    1. Jie Cai & Jacqueline L. Garner & Ralph A. Walkling, 2009. "Electing Directors," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(5), pages 2389-2421, October.
    2. Morgan, Angela & Poulsen, Annette & Wolf, Jack, 2006. "The evolution of shareholder voting for executive compensation schemes," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 715-737, September.
    3. Carr Bettis & John Bizjak & Jeffrey Coles & Swaminathan Kalpathy, 2010. "Stock and Option Grants with Performance-based Vesting Provisions," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(10), pages 3849-3888, October.
    4. Del Guercio, Diane & Seery, Laura & Woidtke, Tracie, 2008. "Do boards pay attention when institutional investor activists "just vote no"?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 84-103, October.
    5. Core, John E. & Guay, Wayne & Larcker, David F., 2008. "The power of the pen and executive compensation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-25, April.
    6. Jennifer E. Bethel & Stuart L. Gillan, 2002. "The Impact of the Institutional and Regulatory Environment on Shareholder Voting," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 31(4), Winter.
    7. Larcker, David F., 1983. "The association between performance plan adoption and corporate capital investment," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 3-30, April.
    8. Cai, Jie & Walkling, Ralph A., 2011. "Shareholders’ Say on Pay: Does It Create Value?," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 299-339, April.
    9. Larcker, David F. & Ormazabal, Gaizka & Taylor, Daniel J., 2011. "The market reaction to corporate governance regulation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 431-448, August.
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