February 8, 2007

The SEC’s ’08 Budget Request

Earlier this week, the SEC released its budget request for 2008, as well as it’s Congressional justification for the request. As is the case for most federal agencies not dealing with homeland security or the military, the SEC’s budget would remain flat in terms of constant dollars as it increases to $906 million from $878 million, as noted in this article.

More importantly, the headcount at the SEC would once again be cut for almost all substantive functions, including Corp Fin and Enforcement – although the budget assumes the SEC will finish fiscal 2008 with 3,567 full-time employees, the same number the agency is expected to have at the end of the current fiscal year. With accountants making up the bulk of Corp Fin these days, the number of lawyers in the Division today is quite low compared to the good ole days when some of us roamed her halls…

SEC Filing Fees: Any Update?

A member recently asking if Congress ever approved the SEC’s budget, which in turn would lower the SEC’s filing fees. Although a delay from approving the SEC’s budget – whose fiscal year ends September 30th – is an annual rite of passage, this year’s ongoing delay might be a record! Four months and counting (although there finally has some movement on approving the Federal budget this week). Here is the SEC’s most recent resolution that extended temporary funding through February 15th. So, filing fees remain at last year’s rates for the time being…

ISS’ Board Pay Study

Last week, ISS issued its 2007 Board Practices, Board Pay Study (here is an interview with Carol Bowie on the Study). Among the findings reported are:

– Director compensation rose 12% to $160,000/yr., mostly due to higher value of equities.

– Stock option use continued to decline, down to 54% of directors from 58% in 2005 and 66% in 2004. Restricted stock use increased to 51%, compared to 44% in 2005.

– Annual retainers remain the most popular, with 95% of boards getting them.

– Increased disclosure of stock ownership requirements; 37% in 2006 v 28% in 2005. 56% of S&P 500 now have such requirements, typically 5 times board retainer.

– Diversity hasn’t changed from 2005 to 2006. Still 12% of directorships held by women; 10% by minorities.