Equity Compensation Trends 2021

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Equity Compensation Trends, an Equilar publication, examines equity compensation design and granting practices of Equilar 500 companies over the last five fiscal years. The Equilar 500 tracks the largest public companies by reported revenue, with headquarters in the U.S. that trade on one of the major U.S. stock exchanges (Nasdaq, NYSE or NYSE American). The narrative portion of this report identifies company trends surrounding awards and the design of equity compensation plans for NEOs. Morgan Stanley at Work has offered independent commentary to provide insight and context regarding how companies structure equity pay.

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Key Findings

  • In 2020, 95.4% of companies included stock in their equity compensation packages. The percentage of companies awarding stock only has risen by 22.4% over the course of the study, with 44.2% of Equilar 500 companies choosing to do so in 2020
  • The median number of time-based stock awards granted to Equilar 500 NEOs has increased by nearly 17% since 2016
  • Performance equity has been granted to more than 80% of NEOs every year since 2017
  • By far, LTIP units were the most prevalent performance equity vehicle, accounting for 63% of Equilar 500 performance equity in 2020