STUDY SAYS TECH FIRMS SLASH OPTION GRANTS: The high-tech industry has decreased its use of broad-based stock option grants by approximately 15 percent to 20 percent, according to two studies by Mellon Financial Corp.’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions business.

“These findings are among the first empirical evidence of this trend, and confirm what we’ve been seeing in our work with high-tech firms,” said Ted Buyniski, a Mellon principal and compensation high-tech industry leader. “Companies are quickly reacting to shareholder pressure to cut equity grants in anticipation of expensing.”

Annual “burn rates,” defined as the percentage of common shares outstanding provided via stock options to employees, fell 30 percent in a one-year period, two Mellon studies found.

Mellon reported that restricted stock programs are increasing, with restricted stock being offered to more levels of employees. In addition, Mellon said that several firms had replaced option grants with restricted stock in advance of stock option expensing to address shareholder concerns about dilution.

The studies found that global firms are “localizing” their option grant practices. Rather than follow global guidelines, companies are establishing separate local guidelines that reflect each region’s perception of the value of stock options, and the supply and demand issues of the local labor market.

 

CFRA TO CONDUCT TRAINING PROGRAM: The Society of Certified Retirement Financial Advisors is conducting a training and credentialing program for advisors seeking the CRFA designation in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 13-16, 2004. Larry Klein, CPA/PFS and Harvard MBA, and author of “Marketing Financial Services to Seniors,” will lead the training sessions.

Training will include: retiree-specific tax issues and how to avoid taxation of Social Security income; how to build a retiree’s portfolio for income and tax reduction; LTC and related tax issues; integration of retirement and estate plans; specialized training in marketing to retirees; and the psychology seniors use to make financial decisions. For more details, go to www.crfa.us.

 

FEI UNVEILS 2004-2005 OFFICER SLATE: Financial Executives International, a 15,000-member group comprised of chief financial officers and senior financial executives, announced its 2004-2005 slate of officers.

Mary Jo Green, senior vice president and treasurer of Sony Corp., was elected chairman. A member of FEI since 1988, she has held various leadership positions within the group on both a national and a local level.

Robert Walker, former chief financial officer of Agilent Technologies, will serve as vice chairman. Richard Schrader, executive vice president and CFO of Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. in New York, and M. Alexis Dow, metro auditor of Metro in Portland, Ore., will serve as vice presidents-at-large.

Forbes Baker, controller and chief accounting officer of the Port of Houston Authority, in Houston, will serve as treasurer. David Cavallo, assistant controller for USG Corp., in Chicago, will serve as secretary. Joan Netzel, first vice president and audit relationship manager for SunTrust Banks Inc., of Atlanta, will serve as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Financial Executives Research Foundation — FEI’s research affiliate.

 

CFP UNVEILS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS: The College for Financial Planning announced the winners of three scholarships for the 2004-2005 academic year.

The winner of this year’s $2,595 David M. King Merit Scholarship, for a planner with less than five years in the field, is a self-employed consultant, P. J. Gunter, of My Money Matters, in Stafford, Texas. The winner of the $2,595 Nauheim Merit Scholarship, for a planner with more than five years in the field, is Jason Belyen of Portsmouth, N.H., a financial advisor with American Express Financial Advisors.

Both scholarships allow the recipients to undertake studies to help them earn the Certified Financial Planner designation.

The $5,243 Financial Analyst Scholarship winner is Tiffani Boskovich, a portfolio manager for First National Bank, in Loveland, Colo. The scholarship is awarded to a student who has been accepted as a candidate for the Master of Science, Financial Analyst degree. In addition to covering the cost of courses, the scholarship pays most of the cost of the certified financial analyst Level One examination.

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