Doing What’s Right

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Expert Perspective by Grahall’s OmniMedia Editorial Board

On April 30, 2010 Towers Watson released a statement about some changes to their Executive Compensation business (Towers Watson Aligns Executive Compensation Consulting Strategy With Evolving Range of Client Needs).  The press release announces that: “ After an extensive three-month review of the executive compensation (EC) consulting market in the U.S., Towers Watson today reaffirmed its commitment to the EC consulting business, while reorienting its strategic approach to meet the evolving needs of clients.”    The press release goes on to say that for Boards that want separate compensation advisors for the board and management, TW “will focus on providing EC consulting services to management” and an “independent, non-affiliated consulting firm, Pay Governance LLC will be formed, staffed by former Towers Watson EC consultants who will serve as Board-level advisors.”

Well that’s a very market savvy approach although we are pretty surprised that TW needed an “extensive review” to determine that independence is a necessary configuration for providing executive compensation services to Boards.  We also find it just a little preposterous to claim that the new firm lead by former Towers and former Watson senior executive compensation personnel and staffed by “a select number of current and former Towers Watson associates [transitioned] to the new firm “ during 2010 is in the strictest sense of the word independent.  Non-affiliated doesn’t mean disinterested, and the folks at Pay Governance have many deep ties at TW. 

Good luck to both companies and their newly found independence.  And good luck to the clients who we hope find that this new structure more than just an appearance of separation.

Independence is not a “grey area”; it is not subjective.  This is not a time when a Board of Directors can be satisfied with a thin veil of objectivity.

Contact Grahall’s OmniMedia Editorial Board at edie.kingston@grahall.com

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