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Mid-Cap Board Directors Make More in Tech than in Other Industries

There's an interesting survey out from BDO Seidman looking at board director compensation in mid-market public companies. According to these figures, which cover publicly-traded firms with under $1 billion in annual revenues, directors in high tech firms make more than their counterparts in energy, manufacturing, real estate, retail, and even financial services. Of course, you have to look at the fine print to see whether bigger "compensation" means bigger take-home checks.

The data came from public disclosures, so it's pretty complete. Here's a summary table, built from the information:

Director Compensation
Industry Compensation % Cash % Full-Value Stock % Stock Options
Technology $142,370 30 33 37
Energy $104,411 41 43 17
Real Estate $94,455 44 48 8
Manufacturing $75,980 49 39 12
Retail $67,733 52 32 16
Financial Services $40,575 68 25 7
As BDO Seidman points out, technology is unusual in how it provides director compensation. The total is the largest, but the cash portion is smallest, and the industry also makes by far the heaviest use of stock options. But even with the smallest cash portion, tech is near the top in terms of take-home:
Base Cash Compensation
Industry Cash Payment
Technology $42,711
Energy $42,809
Real Estate $41,506
Manufacturing $37,230
Retail $35,221
Financial Services $27,591
So in the mid-cap tech companies, directors are close to the top of the heap just on a cash basis, and, if you look at potential upside, definitely number one in compensation. Given that much of the tech compensation is in stock options, it could be that the actual value of a director's position is even higher than it seems, given that the large block of stock options would be valued at strike price. If the company does well, then the director would eventually get the benefit of capital gains.
Erik Sherman

Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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