Governance of Corporate Insider Equity Trades

10 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2020

See all articles by John D. Kepler

John D. Kepler

Stanford Graduate School of Business

David F. Larcker

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Brian Tayan

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Daniel J. Taylor

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: January 28, 2020

Abstract

Corporate executives receive a considerable portion of their compensation in the form of equity and, from time to time, sell a portion of their holdings in the open market. Executives nearly always have access to nonpublic information about the company, and routinely have an information advantage over public shareholders. Federal securities laws prohibit executives from trading on material nonpublic information about their company, and companies develop an Insider Trading Policy (ITP) to ensure executives comply with applicable rules. In this Closer Look we examine the potential shortcomings of existing governance practices as illustrated by four examples that suggest significant room for improvement.

We ask:
• Should an ITP go beyond legal requirements to minimize the risk of negative public perception from trades that might otherwise appear suspicious?
• Why don’t all companies make the terms of their ITP public?
• Why don’t more companies require the strictest standards, such as pre-approval by the general counsel and mandatory use of 10b5-1 plans?
• Does the board review trades by insiders on a regular basis? What conversation, if any, takes place between executives and the board around large, single-event sales?

Keywords: CEO compensation, CEO pay, insider trading, insider trading policy, 10b5-1 plans, approval of executive stock transactions, board of directors, blackout window, general counsel approval, suspicious, corporate governance research

JEL Classification: G3, G34, M12

Suggested Citation

Kepler, John and Larcker, David F. and Tayan, Brian and Taylor, Daniel, Governance of Corporate Insider Equity Trades (January 28, 2020). Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University Closer Look Series: Topics, Issues and Controversies in Corporate Governance No. CGRP-81 (2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3526948

John Kepler

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

David F. Larcker

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

Graduate School of Business
518 Memorial Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States
650-725-6159 (Phone)

Brian Tayan

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Daniel Taylor (Contact Author)

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

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