Don't pity outside directors. Their jobs may be a lot harder these days than they used to be, when attendance at corporate meetings was largely a ceremonial function. But the rewards have gotten a lot juicier, according to a recent survey by Hewitt Associates of 100 large industrial corporations. The consulting firm reports that outside directors' total compensation, including stock and retirement benefits, "has begun to soar like a Patriot missile."
Aside from annual retainers and meeting fees, which averaged $39,800 in 1990, Hewitt found that 67% of the companies surveyed now provide directors with retirement benefits, compared with only 28% in 1985. The pension each year usually equals the annual retainer, which averaged $26,700 last year, and is payable either for life or for a time equal to the director's years on the board. In addition, 63% of the companies now offer directors stock ownership, and 77% allow them to defer all or part of their annual retainers and fees until retirement.