Compensation Discussion and Analysis (CD&A): Readability and Management Obfuscation
Posted: 27 Jul 2011
Date Written: July 26, 2011
This paper examines the relationship between the readability of the CD&A section in proxy statements and management motives to obfuscate executive compensation disclosures. Using the CD&As in the 2007 and 2008 proxy statements, we examine whether the CD&A readability is associated with the proportion of CEO pay not related to the economic determinants of compensation. We note that the average CD&A is difficult to read. We find that firms with CEO pay exceeding the benchmark pay have a more difficult to read CD&A in the 2007 proxy season. The result suggests that, in its first CD&A report, top management tends to cloak its compensation practices when the practices are not tied to the economic determinants of pay. However, we also find those firms with CEO pay exceeding the benchmark pay improve the readability of their CD&As in the 2008 proxy season, suggesting that executive compensation disclosure improves under regulatory oversight and public pressure.
Keywords: disclosure, CD&A, executive compensation, readability
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation