Pearl Meyer at a Glance


  • "The firm places a very strong emphasis on employee development."
  • "Flexibility in work schedules."
  • "It's a very intellectual and relaxed culture. You're always on the learning curve."


  • "As a consulting firm, sometimes workflow can be a little unpredictable."
  • "Job is done based on client needs and can fluctuate."
  • "Not always knowing what is going on outside my office."

The Buzz

  • "Small HR only firm"
  • "Good, HR focused."
  • Limited reputation.

About Pearl Meyer

For more than two decades, Pearl Meyer has provided compensation consulting services and compensation survey data to clients ranging from Fortune 500s to emerging, high-growth companies and not-for-profits. At a time when executive pay is under the regulatory microscope and shareholders are demanding more value for their money, Pearl Meyer provides a comprehensive approach to compensation planning. The firm's 100-plus professionals work with boards and senior management to create executive reward programs that align with the company's business and leadership strategy. 

All of the firm's core practices deal with compensation, with consulting services that range from compensation strategy design to implementation and communication of pay programs. Capabilities include compensation philosophy and guiding principles, salary programs, annual short-term and long-term incentives, value creation and performance measurement, contracts, severance agreements, change-in-control arrangements, equity programs, competitive intelligence and compensation surveys. The firm also conducts extensive research, ensuring that it can serve as an up-to-date resource with trustworthy benchmarking. 

Winding Path to Pearl Meyer 

Pearl Meyer & Partners was founded in 1989 and acquired in 2000 by Clark Consulting. Seven years later, in March 2007, AEGON N.V., a Dutch life insurance and pension group, bought out Clark Consulting. Under a special asset exchange agreement between Clark Consulting and AEGON, Pearl Meyer & Partners and other divisions that had been part of Clark Consulting were sold to Clark Wamberg, LLC, an investor group created to absorb the former Clark Consulting. In 2010, the Company was spun off from Clark & Wamberg, LLC and is now owned by Benson & Botsford Shared Services, LLC and certain management owners. David N. Swinford has been the firm's CEO and President since 2007. In the fall of 2015, the firm re-branded and shortened its name to Pearl Meyer. 

Lay of the land

Knowing what your competition is paying its executives and employees is important to keep the right people in the right jobs. Pearl Meyer's compensation survey practice publishes the Pearl Meyer compensation survey series, managed surveys, as well as custom surveys. The Pearl Meyer family of surveys are broad studies that provide data on segments of the employee population, such as recent college graduates, customer-focused positions and, of course, upper-level executives and managers. The firm partners with industry associations and groups to run managed surveys that report pay data for specialized industries or geographic areas such as cyber security, the engineering and construction industry, and community banking associations. Pearl Meyer's custom surveys are usually designed to tackle a single organization's unique employee population segments, which may have specific credentials or backgrounds that would make benchmarking difficult. Pearl Meyer also conducts custom surveys; for example, a company employing a large number of expatriates, or with positions requiring high skill and experience, may require a more focused or specialized competitive assessment. All surveys are available in print and online formats. 

A recognized resource

A longtime provider of compensation information and services, industry professionals have come to rely on Pearl Meyer for its expertise and advice, which the firm offers via research reports, articles, client alerts, videos, and white papers. "As We See It" pieces offer perspective on industry trends and timely client alerts offer technical advice on compensation developments in the disclosure, tax, and accounting areas. 

Pearl Meyer consultants also regularly participate in industry events and conferences, and are regularly quoted in industry publications-such as Agenda, Directorship, workspan, Compliance Week, Financial Week, Pension & Benefits Daily and CFO-and in mainstream media, such as Bloomberg,  Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and the Washington Post. 


Summer 2016 

Creating Value with Compensation as Your Catalyst

In a recent in-depth Q&A published in Equilar's C-Suite Magazine, David Swinford discusses various options for boards who are exploring the best way to use compensation as a tool for creating value in their organization. 

He also explains why Total Shareholder Return (TSR) as an incentive metric is not the answer to building long-term value and what types of metrics boards should consider instead. Read more

Three Mandates and a Proxy: Planning Ahead for Disclosure Rules

In 2015, the SEC moved closer to implementation of three outstanding Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) provisions on executive compensation. The CEO Pay RatioClawbacks, and Pay-vs-Performance proxy disclosure rules are complex enough on their own, but taken together, they represent a big challenge for public companies to "get it right."

This article by Jan Koors, managing director and head of the Chicago office, was recently published in Ethical Boardroom Magazine. It offers an in-depth look at the three provisions together and outlines what will likely be required, as well as what organizations can do to plan ahead.

When Total Shareholder Return Isn't the Answer

While relative Total Shareholder Return (TSR) may at first appear to be a useful incentive measurement, there are numerous drawbacks to its use. This article published by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) summarizes recent research from Pearl Meyer and the Cornell University ILR School's Institute of Compensation Studies. The data shows that TSR is not effective as an incentive metric and doesn't lead to improved firm performance.

So what can Boards and Compensation Committees do if they want to move away from this ineffective incentive measurement? Pearl Meyer President and CEO David Swinford offers five points for consideration that can lead to more robust compensation programs designed to create long-term shareholder value.

Pearl Meyer discusses Compensation at the Tech Giants in Bloomberg

According to Bloomberg, Inc., Alphabet Inc., and Facebook Inc. have upended the establishments in retailing, advertising, and media-so it may not come as a surprise that their pay plans are unusual too. The three set themselves apart from other S&P 500 companies by paying bosses almost exclusively in stock grants that are free from any links to performance goals. 

Paying in stock rather than cash helps boards align management rewards with performance and tying those grants to specific financial or operational milestones can reinforce that approach. Yet for businesses in hot industries like tech, boards may prefer plans that don't reveal company targets and that help retain highly sought-after executives by guaranteeing their potential payouts. 

Shares awarded to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's four top lieutenants in 2015 made up more than 80 percent of their total pay, compared with an average of 60 percent for S&P 500 CEOs, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. They will be fully vested by 2021 as long as the four remain employed by the company, a filing shows.

Vesting periods of at least four years are necessary for companies that rely exclusively on time-based stock awards to "gear individuals toward taking a longer-term view," said Aalap Shah, managing director at executive pay firm Pearl Meyer. An absence of metrics from pay plans hardly means that executives don't have goals they must achieve to get paid, Shah said. Read more.

Pearl Meyer Gives Back

For the fourth year, Pearl Meyer is proud to be a presenting sponsor of World T.E.A.M. Sports' Adventure Team Challenge [VIDEO]. The three-day, multi-discipline race brings outdoor sports enthusiasts with disabilities and able-bodied participants to work together in teams to complete a daring athletic competition. Pearl Meyer's Chief Human Resources Officer Michael Enos says, "I can say first hand this is an incredibly inspiring, challenging, and life changing event that strengthens relationships, fosters teamwork, promotes problem solving, and brings camaraderie to the forefront. It is a powerful experience and one that our firm greatly values." 

Three Reasons Why You Should Care About the New Proposed Incentive Compensation Rules

A new set of incentive compensation rules for financial institutions is on the horizon. While there are various thresholds of rigor based on bank size, there is also an explicit provision allowing regulators to disregard asset levels. 

Managing Director and banking industry expert Greg Swanson provides detail on the proposal and suggests actions all banks can take now to get ahead of the issues. Read more.

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Pearl Meyer

570 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 644-2300
Fax: (212) 644-2320


  • Employer Type: Private
  • President & CEO: David N. Swinford
  • 2016 Employees: 130

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Executive Compensation
    Board of Directors Compensation
    Compensation-Related Governance
    Compensation Communication
    Compensation Surveys
    Broad-Based Employee Compensation

Major Office Locations

  • New York, NY (HQ)
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Boston, MA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chicago, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • London
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