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How to Choose an Executive Compensation Consulting Firm

If you play a vital role in HR matters, you may also be asked to weigh in the next time your company considers turning to an executive compensation consulting firm.

Many issues are at stake, including profitability, retaining and attracting the right executives and even company culture. Given those and other factors, selecting the right firm isn’t merely a matter of asking a few contacts for their recommendations (although that natural step has merit).

Experience is Everything

It’s not enough just be passionate about our industry (we have that covered). Experience matters. We’ve navigated all of the challenges and changes within executive compensation. In one sense, our advice might seem to come naturally to us. But we don’t take our knowledge for granted. Our insights and wisdom are rooted in our deep understanding of compensation nuances and the decades we’ve spent solving and forecasting executive compensation for hundreds of companies.

As a consulting firm, we sit at the table with diverse stakeholders while reviewing key data and explaining the implications of essential changes for senior managers, officers and others at closely-held companies, publicly-traded businesses, non-profit charities, foundations and more.

Our consultants have worked with such companies as Bank of America Corporation, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and Nationwide.

Independence Can’t Be Overstated

We’re successful because we serve as impartial advisors. We’re more than vendors. When we work with clients, we form relationships and do everything we can to help the companies reach their goals even in the most competitive environments and changing economic conditions. When we enter agreements, the objectives are clear and client focused.

Some consulting firms offer amazingly low fees that are miles below industry standards. In addition to financial ploys, they often have other motives, including immediately chasing other consulting opportunities at the same company weeks and sometimes months before they present their first report. They also sometimes fail to disclose any conflicts of interest.

How are we better than others? We’re guided by a desire to honor clients with superior service, a principle maintained by our individual and collective declaration to cherish and nurture our relationships by providing prompt, personal service.

Understand the Fees

Like many firms, our fees vary based on the company’s particular needs and specific cope of the engagement. Your dollars can actually go farther when you align them with a strategy. In other words, it’s not likely that your executive compensation situation sits in a vacuum.  Even before we work with a client, we’re always open to identifying some important questions and underlying variables. We help businesses become comfortable with how executive compensation decisions have immediate and long-term effects. We’re not doing our jobs if it’s not clear how fees can affect a company’s bottom line now and in the years to come.

Executive Consulting Firms Should Offer Thought Leadership

You can rate consultants and their industry acumen in a number of ways. A website blog is just one place to explore. Look for in-depth industry guides and analysis. Note whether consultants have gained national recognition based on what they’ve written for others or where they’re invited to speak. In some cases, they sit on industry boards and committees. You can also research whether anyone has testified about compensation matters and influenced industry regulations. We’re always open about our views on critical compensation topics and stay up to date on the latest industry developments and governance issues.

Other Questions to Consider

  • What is meant by executive compensation, such as the base salary, bonuses, equity or equity-like substitutes?
  • How can you best balance executive compensation with other interests like shareholder and corporate obligations?
  • How do you define the competitive landscape?
  • What provisions are in place to ensure security and confidentiality?
  • Who will be most impacted by change?
  • Will there be fall out from anyone?
  • How confident are you that the consulting firm appreciates your perspective?

Selecting the most appropriate executive compensation consulting firm requires a time investment by several people within any company. Your job is a lot easier when you’re equipped with the best information and the right questions.

We’re ready to explain why we might be a good fit for your company. As you decide whether to choose us, we can guide you on some of the next steps, data, policy considerations and other factors that come into play with any critical compensation moves. Contact us today.