While compensation for CEOs in L.A. is down year over year, total pay for the top executives at S&P 500 companies is at a five-year high, according to a national pay analysis.

The study, conducted by New York-based Mercer Inc., shows a 4.7% median rise in 2018 executive compensation at the companies examined.

“It’s a little larger than what we’ve seen in the last couple of years,” said Adam Bogucki, Mercer’s global director of executive compensation data, research and publications. Mercer is a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc.

Mercer’s analysis of compensation for chief executives found median pay was $12.1 million in 2018. Median 2018 revenue for these companies was $13.3 billion. The analysis is based on 100 companies in the S&P 500 that filed fiscal 2018 proxies by April 1. Mercer examined short-term incentives earned and long-term incentives granted.

Short-term incentives, also often referred to as annual incentives, are intended to compensate executives for achieving the company’s short-term business strategy based on meeting revenue or operating profit goals established by the board of directors.

In long-term incentive plans, the most common metrics are total shareholder return and stock price appreciation.

All components of chief executive pay increased year over year, according to the Mercer analysis. Both short-term incentives earned and long-term incentives granted grew 7.5% at the median in 2018, while base salaries increased 0.6% at the median.

Short-term incentive payouts continue to exceed targets; chief executive payouts reflected strong financial performance in 2018, with year-over-year median growth in revenue and earnings before taxes of roughly 10%, and median profit growth of almost 20%.

The median 2018 short-term incentive payout was 12% of target — the highest in five years — at nearly $2.2 million, according to the Mercer analysis.

Median long-term incentive values granted to chief executives in 2018 were just over $8.4 million, reflecting a 7.5% median increase over the prior year.

With increases in long-term incentives generally outpacing those of base salary and short-term incentives in recent years, the average chief executive pay structure has shifted gradually toward more long-term incentives.

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