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Jochem, T., Ladika, T. and Sautner, Z. (2018). The Retention Effects of Unvested Equity: Evidence from Accelerated Option Vesting Review of Financial Studies, 31(11):4142–4186.

  • Journal
    Review of Financial Studies

We document that firms can effectively retain executives by granting deferred equity pay. We show this by analyzing a unique regulatory change (FAS 123-R) that prompted 723 firms to suddenly eliminate stock option vesting periods. This allowed CEOs to keep 33% more options when departing the firm, and we find that voluntary CEO departure rates subsequently rose from 5% to 21%. Our identification strategy exploits FAS 123-R{\textquoteright}s almost-random timing, which was staggered by firms{\textquoteright} fiscal year-ends. Firms that experienced departures suffered negative stock price reactions, and responded by increasing compensation for remaining and newly hired executives.