FULT » Topics » Compensation Discussion and Analysis

This excerpt taken from the FULT DEF 14A filed Apr 2, 2007.

Compensation Discussion and Analysis

     Introduction and Overview

     Objectives. The primary objectives of the Fulton Financial Corporation executive compensation program are to:

- Provide a competitive level of executive compensation;

- Provide compensation that promotes Fulton Financial Corporation's fundamental business objectives and strategy;

- Provide executives with forms of compensation, including equity compensation, that align the interests of management with Fulton Financial Corporation’s shareholders;

- Provide appropriate allocations between short-term and long-term compensation and equity and non-equity compensation; and

- Improve Fulton Financial Corporation’s ability to attract and retain key executive talent as it continues to grow outside of its historical footprint into more competitive markets.

     Committee Membership and Role. Each member of the Executive Compensation Committee (“Compensation Committee”) qualifies as an independent director under the NASDAQ listing standards. The Compensation Committee is currently comprised of five independent directors, including a committee Chair and Vice Chair, all of whom are elected annually by Fulton Financial Corporation’s Board of Directors. There are no interlocking relationships, as defined in the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), involving members of the Compensation Committee. For a further discussion on director independence, see the “Information about Nominees, Continuing Directors and Independence Standards” section on page 5 of this proxy statement.

     Pursuant to its charter, which is available on Fulton Financial Corporation’s website at www.fult.com, the role of the Compensation Committee is to assist the Board of Directors of Fulton Financial Corporation in evaluating and setting salaries, bonuses and other compensation of Messrs. Smith, Ashby, Nugent, Shreiner and Wenger (“Senior Management” or the "Executives" and individually the “Executive”), to administer Fulton Financial Corporation’s equity and other compensation plans (except those plans in which all employees may participate), and to take such other actions, within the scope of its charter, as the Compensation Committee deems necessary and appropriate.

     The Compensation Committee has the power to appoint subcommittees, but no subcommittee has any final decision-making authority on behalf of the Compensation Committee or the Board. The Compensation Committee relies upon such performance data, statistical information and other data regarding executive compensation programs, including information provided by Fulton Financial Corporation’s Human Resources Department, Fulton Financial Corporation’s officers and outside advisors, as it deems appropriate. The Compensation Committee has unrestricted access to individual members of management and employees and may ask them to attend any committee meeting or to meet with any members of the Compensation Committee. The Compensation Committee has the power and discretion to retain, at Fulton Financial Corporation’s expense, such independent counsel and other advisors and experts as it deems necessary or appropriate to carry out its duties.

     Fulton Financial Corporation’s compensation program is a continuing process throughout the year, and the Compensation Committee meets as often and at such times as the Chair or the Vice Chair (in the absence of the Chair) or a majority of the Committee determines. A special meeting of the Committee may be called by the Chair or the Vice Chair (in the absence of the Chair) or upon the request of any two Committee members to discuss compensation matters.  

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Management plays a significant role in recommending agenda items for these meetings and by gathering and producing information for committee meetings. As requested, the Chief Executive Officer and other members of Senior Management participate in committee meetings to provide background information, compensation recommendations, performance evaluations and other items requested by the Chair or the other members of the Compensation Committee.

     Compensation Philosophy. The overall compensation program is designed to enable Fulton Financial Corporation to achieve the compensation objectives listed above. For 2006, the Board of Directors determined the compensation for Senior Management of Fulton Financial Corporation after receiving recommendations from the Compensation Committee based upon external salary comparisons of certain peer institutions and individual performance. Fulton Financial Corporation’s executive compensation program is based, to a significant degree, on peer information, because the Compensation Committee believes that Fulton Financial Corporation must offer competitive compensation in order to recruit and retain qualified executive officers. The Compensation Committee endorses the philosophy that executive compensation should reflect Fulton Financial Corporation's overall performance and the contribution of its Executives to that performance. The executive compensation program is designed to support Fulton Financial Corporation’s core values and strategic objectives.

     Use of Consultants. The Compensation Committee retained an external compensation consultant, the Hay Group, in 2005 and 2006 to review certain aspects of executive compensation and obtain recommendations for updates to Fulton Financial Corporation’s compensation programs. This included a base salary review and assistance with the creation of a new performance based bonus plan. Compensation reviews like this one cover in detail only those individuals for whom compensation information is disclosed publicly. As a result, these studies typically include only the most highly compensated members of a company’s senior management. The overall results of this information provided the starting point for the Compensation Committee analysis. Several of these recommendations were implemented in 2006, including new employment agreements with Senior Management and a variable bonus compensation plan (“Variable Compensation Bonus Plan”) that are both described in more detail below.

     Evaluation of Executives. In making recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding the appropriate levels of executive compensation for 2006, the Compensation Committee considered the individual performance factors established for each Executive under the Variable Compensation Bonus Plan. With regard to the compensation paid to the Executives other than the Chief Executive Officer, the Compensation Committee considered its own perceptions of the performance of each Executive, and reviewed information provided by the Chief Executive Officer as to each executive officer's level of individual performance, attainment of performance goals, contribution to the organization, and salary history during the past four years. With regard to the compensation paid to the Chief Executive Officer, the Compensation Committee considered his performance level, attainment of performance goals, results of management decisions made by the Chief Executive Officer, the earnings of Fulton Financial Corporation during the previous year and other factors. The Compensation Committee reviewed the amounts payable under each individual element of compensation as well as in the aggregate for each member of Senior Management and concluded that the individual elements of, and total aggregate, compensation paid to each Executive were appropriate.

     Use of Peer Groups. The Compensation Committee has used peer groups of different bank holding companies over the last few years for purposes of making a comparative analysis of compensation of Fulton Financial Corporation and its peers and for other compensation program purposes. The peer group includes bank holding companies that are members of the peer group used by Fulton Financial Corporation for purposes of the Performance Graph included in the 2006 Annual Report (the “Performance Peer Group”) and is also used to determine the annual option awards as discussed below. The Performance Peer Group includes bank holding companies that, at the time of selection in 2004, were comparable to Fulton Financial Corporation in terms of asset size, although they were not necessarily comparable in terms of financial performance.

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     For the evaluation of the base salaries of the Executives, the Hay Group developed a second, smaller peer group (the “Comparator Peer Group”), which consists of several of the members from the Performance Peer Group plus other financial service companies. The Comparator Peer Group members were selected because each had a median total asset size of approximately $15.5 billion, similar to Fulton Financial Corporation based on 2006 data, and were closer geographically or in other respects comparable to Fulton Financial Corporation. The Comparator Peer Group was used to determine competitive compensation for executives in organizations similar in size and scope to Fulton Financial Corporation. When a peer group member announces that it is being acquired, it is either deleted from the Performance Peer Group and Comparator Peer Group, or replaced, as appropriate. The current members of two peer groups are:

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