In the grand tradition of corporate America, being the CEO of a company and getting to boss people around has historically been preferable to not being the CEO of a company and not getting to boss people around. Offered the choice between chief executive officer and second year peon, smart money would tell you to choose the former. Ever since the global financial crisis, though, a dark cloud has settled over the biggest office in the c-suite. Come comp time, CEOs have been getting less and less of their award in cash and more in unsightly equity packages. As Jefferies chief Rich Handler will tell you, "You can’t spend non-cash compensation or unpaid cash to buy a home, purchase groceries, invest in your life or help out friends and family," or, like, a manservant to dress you every morning. Anecdotally speaking,1 some higher-ups were considering swapping gigs with first-year analysts, just for the cold hard cash. Luckily, it appears it won't come to that:
Cash compensation for chief executives rose at its fastest rate in at least four years in 2014, swelling to 37.3% of total CEO compensation, higher than it has been since 2010, according to a survey of early proxy filings by the Hay Group for The Wall Street Journal. The rise in cash pay contrasts with trends just after the financial crisis, when shares had cratered and companies filled out their top officers’ pay packages with equity grants.
We can all now breathe easy. It's going to be okay.
1. In our heads. But could be true.↩