Our research indicates that many owners, boards and advisors have a dangerous blind spot when it comes to rewards and succession. Owners default to executive rewards that are familiar, not necessarily those that are the “best-fit”. To shine a light on this blind spot, our BOLD Value team has crafted our list of most powerful high performance awards.

Reviewing over 100 rewards programs full cycle, we observe that best-fit solutions address three most critical questions:

  • Do our incentives truly promote our intended business performance?

  • Do our incentives help owners and execs achieve most important personal objectives?

  • Do our incentives self-correct across plausible good and bad business outcomes?

Which plans work best? Our diverse experience suggests that combination plans are most effective. Marry company equity-based awards with individual cash-based awards. Pick one each from the equity-based list and the cash-based list below. This promotes company growth while helping to preserve executives’ lifestyle.

Your executive rewards and succession program should drive growth and strategic advantage, not put your business at risk. An outside advisor can serve a vital role by providing owners and boards a wide-angle lens, a tested process and a safe venue to address these critical questions. Our E3 planning strategy does just that – spanning executive compensation, equity strategies and exit & legacy planning solutions.
Contact us and find out which combination of the Top 40 solutions may be right for your company.

Top 40 Executive Rewards*: A Pathway to Strategic Advantage

Equity Based Incentives
True Equity: Full Value True Equity: Upside Value Synthetic Equity (Full or Upside)
1) Sell Stock to key managers 8) Profits Interest in LLC 15) Phantom Stock (enterprise or division)
2) Compensatory stock grants 9) Drop Down Division (w/ upside interest) 16) Phantom Stock with Owner’s Pre
3) Owner Redemption (Gross up others) 10) Employee Stock Options (“Options”) 17) Enterprise Value Unit Plan
4) Restricted Stock and RSUs 11) Stock Appreciation Rights (SARs) 18) Graduating Value Band Unit Plan
5) ESOP (leveraged or creeping ESOP)# 12) Hybrid Capital/Profits Interests 19) Liability SARs
6) Ramp-down/Ramp-up (new entity) 13) Out of the Money SARs, Options 20) Performance Shares
7) Restricted stock paid at CinC** 14) Options/SARs paid only if CinC 21) Sales Bonus upon CinC
Cash Based Incentives
LT Performance Cash Deferred Cash Immediate Cash
22) Allocable Profit Sharing 28) Discretionary Bonus (group/Individual) 35) Salary increases
23) Profit Appreciation Rights 29) NQDC Plan (w/ comp match)^ 36) Annual Bonus
24) Book appreciation rights (BARs) 30) Qualified Profit Sharing Bonus 37) Sales Commission Programs
25) Deferred Participation Units 31) Defined Benefit Plans 38) Spot Bonuses
26) Discretionary Long-Term Incentive Plans 32) Incentive Bonus Plan 39) Fringe Benefit
27) Cash bonus paid at CinC 33) Split Dollar Insurance (or 162 Bonus) 40) Lifestyle Incentives
34) CinC payouts as multiple of salary
Equity Based Incentives
Equity Based Incentives

* Incentives ranked from “Value Now” to “Value Later” (Value Now near top of each of six lists). #ESOP = Employee Stock Ownership Plan, **CinC refers to Change in Control, ^NQDC = Nonqualified Deferred Compensation

Based on our work customizing incentives with hundreds of business owners, we have developed our E3 process to help privately held companies get to high performance leadership and capital succession. Our approach promotes business performance, addresses vital owners’ and managers’ personal objectives, and tests the design across a myriad of business outcomes. Our “Top 40” evolved from this work.

We evaluate key leadership and capital succession strategies and solutions across culture, resiliency, cost, behavior, taxation, simplicity and most importantly — clarity of message.

Communication is central to our design process. Using interviews, facilitation, design sessions and simulations, we marry the economics of value sharing with the fundamental desires of the core management team.

Top 40 Resilient Incentives

Interested in seeing the complete Top 40 High Performance Incentive Toolkit?

Contact our BOLD Value team via for a description of each of the 40 tools and techniques setting the table for a resilient, end-to-end value sharing process.

Visit to learn more about our broader portfolio of Capital Solutions at Work

Executive Compensation, Equity Strategies, Exit & Legacy Planning

Executive Compensation

Grant and or sales of equity, restricted stock, synthetic equity, profit appreciation rights, value-band plans, change of control plans, sophisticated qualified and nonqualified plans, 401(k) profit sharing, fringe benefits and more.

Equity Strategies

Choice of entity (C, S, LLC, tiered LLC), ESOP, management buyouts, redemptions, asset sales, private equity infusions, tax advantaged conversion, profits interests, and more.

Exit & Legacy Planning

Shareholder & operating agreements, buy-sell agreements & associated life insurance, investment planning, fundamental & advanced estate planning, personal financial planning, philanthropy, multigenerational planning, asset protection, tax reduction strategies and more.