Home > Business Databases > CEO compensation – which database is best?

CEO compensation – which database is best?

A couple of queries recently have been about where to get “CEO compensation” data, and this turns out to be a good example where the answer depends on refining the initial question.

At the University of Manchester we have two specialist financial databases that cover executive pay, and therefore CEO (Chief Executive Officer) compensation.

  • BoardEx – this is good for searching current board memberships, but one query was looking for 10 years of historical CEO compensation data for a list of companies
  • Execucomp (Compustat Execucomp) – this is available on WRDS, would cope with historical data and a list of companies, but only if they are US companies.

Next I re-read the May 2012 post Executive Pay – this gives Thomson One Banker and Bloomberg as options. 

Thomson ONE.com is similar to Thomson One Banker – you need to look up the executives, find the CEO on the list and then select to get the detailed information. (It is even harder if you want a previous CEO)

Bloomberg has a function MGMT that allows also allows you to browse company executives. However, it also has two variables for the total salary and the total compensation of the company CEO (or the executive Bloomberg judge as equivalent to the CEO). I used these in the Bloomberg Excel add-in after loading list of companies.

Bloomberg - CEO compensation (click to expand)

Bloomberg – CEO compensation (click to expand)

A little more skill with the Bloomberg Excel add-in and these results could have been presented in a neater fashion.

Datastream is usually good if you want historical numerical data, but searching using “compensation”, “pay”, “salary”, “CEO” all yield no evidence of a suitable time-series datatype.

So as I am looking for historical CEO compensation, including non-US companies, and can get to the library Bloomberg looks to be the best option.

  1. Felix Makaose
    14 November 2014 at 4:14 am

    Hallo Mark Greenwood I am looking for historic Executive Compensation Data for FTSE100 companies for my research project on Bloomberg I tried to follow what you did on the screenshot but I am struggling, is it possible for you to email me step by step instructions please?

    • Phil Reed
      14 November 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Dear Felix,

      Accessing bulk historic data like this requires the Bloomberg Excel add-in and use of the API with a ticker and variable combination. There should be a template available from Bloomberg in Excel to get you started on this.

      We do not have any detailed help guides for this area yet, but hope to develop them in the future.

      Best wishes,
      Phil Reed

      • Felix Makaose
        16 November 2014 at 8:56 am

        Thanks a lot for your response I did manage to get some historic CEO compensation data on Bloomberg but when I select dates from 1995 the search is returning data only from 2007 to present day its frustrating.

      • Phil Reed
        17 November 2014 at 3:16 pm

        The historical range of data is not the best on Bloomberg. We usually suggest Datastream for more extensive coverage, but for CEO compensation something like BoardEx might be more appropriate if you have access to it.

  2. Lorian Micu
    9 September 2015 at 11:59 am

    Dear Mark Greenwood, I am currently looking for historical data (2000-2009) on S&P500 board members. I have access to Boardex, however I am not able to figure out how I could download this data since:
    1) when using advanced search, this command retrieves only the first 3000 observations out of 23000 and
    2) when trying to select the observations retrieved to put them in a list which, hopefully, I can later on download for each year, only the top250 observations can be selected.

    Your advice, or of any of the respected readers, on how to download this data would be very much appreciated!

    Thank you for your time taken to read this message!

    Kind regards, Lorian Micu

    • Mark Greenwood
      9 September 2015 at 10:29 pm

      BoardEx is not designed for large scale downloading of historical data. There is a charge if you get BoardEx to do a search on your behalf – or you have to stay within limits on the results as you have encountered.
      For University of Manchester researchers we would recommend checking Execucomp (through WRDS) since you are looking at US companies.
      [NB I’m no longer at UoM library so this “as remembered” is the best advice I can give.]

  3. Andre Herrera
    13 October 2015 at 11:45 am

    Hi Mark,

    I’m trying to find CEO compensation data for as many companies (preferably European), dating as far back as possible (preferably at least 10 years). I have access to bloomberg but cannot seem to figure out how to import the data onto an excel sheet as you have done. The template available isn’t very useful. Do you mind giving more detail as to how you constructed the database in the photo you uploaded above?

    Thank you very much.

    Kind regards,

    Andre Herrera

    • Mark Greenwood
      14 October 2015 at 10:52 am

      Hi Andre,

      As I am no longer at the University of Manchester with access to Bloomberg I can only give general advice.
      I would advise trying to get historical compensation data for a limited number of companies, and then extend to more companies.
      The photo uploaded above was generated using the Bloomberg Excel wizard for downloading historical data. It is very easy to use for a predefined list, e.g. FTSE 100, with your chosen variables and time period (annual for CEO compensation data).
      There is a way to use your own list/portfolio in the wizard but I don’t know the details. For maximum flexibility you need to learn how to use the Bloomberg Excel functions.
      An alternative is to use the Bloomberg Equity Screening (EQS) and add a column for CEO compensation and then export the results to Excel. I’m sue that when you add a column you can edit it for historical rather than current data. There is a post on EQS – https://bizlib247.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/equity-screening-in-bloomberg/

      Kind regards,
      Mark Greenwood

  4. 15 October 2015 at 10:38 am

    Thank you very much for that Mark. I just have one final question: out of Execucomp, Datastream, Thomson One Banker, Compustat, and Bloomberg, which one would be best to collect historical executive compensation data for say the Eurostoxx or FTSE 250 dating back as far as possible from recent years?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Mark Greenwood
      15 October 2015 at 4:49 pm

      As previously this is based on experience – I haven’t looked into this in detail so I’d recommend cross-checking with what others advise.
      Execucomp to the best of my knowledge is US company specific
      Datastream does not have executive compensation data
      Thomson One Banker (now Thomsom One dot Com) has executive compensation data, covers companies worldwide, but it is not easy to download the data in bulk – probably worth checking with the Thomson Reuters helpdesk
      Compustat does not have executive compensation data – Execucomp is from the same company that provides Compustat. (My knowledge of Compustat is limited and that is based on Compustat US rather than Compustat Global)
      Bloomberg definitely has executive compensation data, covers companies worldwide, but Felix comments above that wasn’t able to get data pre-2007.
      If you have time to gather and assemble the data then Thomson One will probably give you most, but if you have access to Bloomberg it could be significantly quicker.

      Best of luck.

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