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Mercer: 3 percent is slowest board compensation growth in years

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Recent analysis of compensation for board directors at S&P 500 companies found their compensation increased by 3 percent in 2012, the lowest year-over-year change in recent years, according to New York-based human resources and financial consulting firm Mercer.

For all S&P 500 companies, the median cash retainer was $75,000, up from $65,000 two years ago, according to Mercer’s analysis. The largest increases were at the 400 smaller companies on the S&P, where the median retainer increased by 25 percent in two years $75,000. The increase was 5.8 percent to $90,000 for the top 100 firm.

Companies are doing away with per-meeting payments to directors as well. In 2010, 42 percent of companies paid directors for meeting attendance. In 2012, that had dropped to 33 percent and it was 30 percent among the top 100 companies.

Equity compensation is paid at 95 percent of companies, and the median value of those shares grew from $120,000 two years ago to $135,000 last year, according to Mercer.

Just 19 percent of the companies last year granted stock options to directors, down from 26 percent in 2010.

Mercer’s analysis was based on filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission between 2011 and 2012. The peer group was the S&P 500 as it stood on Jan. 1 of this year.

Mercer is a subsidiary of the Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., a global professional services firm. It trades its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol MMC.

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