Where perks are always very limited…

It’s the tail-end of proxy season with a Monday deadline for many companies (at least those on a calendar year). And one of the things we’ve noticed is the large number of companies that describe the perks that they hand out to senior executives as “limited”, or even “very limited”.

Indeed, we’ve yet to come across a company that says their perks are limitless, though we’d certainly argue that we’ve been able to demonstrate otherwise this season.

Over the past two months, we’ve counted 410 companies that have used the the word “limited” to describe their frugal approach to perks. Nearly 10% went a step further, describing the perks they hand out as “very limited”.

Among those using the term “very limited” include CVS Caremark (CVS), Dupont (DD), Progressive (PGR), Marathon Oil (MRO), Whirlpool (WHR), Schlumberger (SLB) and Healthsouth (HLS), which once upon a time, was known for unusually lavish perks. For Progressive, Dupont and Whirlpool, —very limited means personal use of the company jet. At Schlumberger, —very limited means vacation travel allowances and child education expenses. Both Marathon and Schlumberger reimburse executives for losses on home sales.

We particularly liked CVS’ definition of very limited. Former Chairman and CEO Thomas Ryan, who retired last May and now works for private equity firm Advent International received $560K in “other personal benefits”, which is described like this in a footnote to a chart that is itself a footnote (and is in some of the smallest type we’ve ever seen in a filing):

For Mr. Ryan, $75,000 for five years of financial planning provided in connection with his retirement under a pre-existing retention agreement, $442,552 representing five years of salary of an executive assistant provided in connection with his retirement under a pre-existing retention agreement; $41,602 associated with personal use of company aircraft prior to his retirement, $644 for home security and $402 associated with personal use of a company car prior to his retirement

Over the years, we’ve often turned to Garrison Keillor to describe an environment where “all the children are above average.” In proxy-land, we have a somewhat similar situation: many of the perks doled out to top executives are absolutely necessary, not to mention very limited.

Perhaps one day we’ll come across a company that describes its perks as over the top. But we’re probably more likely to run across a unicorn in the filings.


Image source: Unicorn via Shutterstock


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