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The Daily

Executive Compensation Disclosures Getting Longer

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Feb 29, 2016

Stack of big booksThe average length of an S&P 100 company's Compensation Discussion and Analysis section of their annual proxy statements has grown to 9,121 words, 705 words longer than they were five years ago, according to The Wall Street Journal. The length is expected to grow a further 20 percent in the next two years as more disclosure requirements go into effect. The Journal said that the increased length makes it easier to downplay or hide contentious information, as it becomes that much more difficult to find. SEC Chair Mary Jo White recognized this as a problem in a speech last week, saying disclosures must be simplified in order to retain their effectiveness. 

 The CD&A is not the only public company filing that has grown in recent years. The average length of a Form 10-K has grown from 30,000 to 42,000 words between 2000 to 2013, with the longest so far being GE's 109,894 word 2014 report, longer than The Great Gatsby and The Red Badge of Courage combined. By comparison, the longest CD&A so far, Pfizer's, was 19,288 words.