Humphries and other top executives received 85% of their annual cash incentive (ACI) in 2020. In 2019, Humphries had received 42.8% of the ACI.
In 2020, Humphries was granted performance stock units (PSUs) of $6.2 million (22% decrease vs 2019) and restricted stock units (RSUs) of $4.2 million (there were no RSUs in the target direct compensation in 2019). His realised compensation in the year was $5.1 million, significantly lower than the target direct compensation because, as the proxy statement said, “all the PSU awards made in 2019 and 2020 will vest in future periods.”
The top executives’ target direct compensation includes cash, divided between base salary and ACI , and long-term compensation in the form of equity, divided between PSUs and RSUs.
The proxy statement said that the 2020 target direct compensation and other compensation of its top executives were set with reference to the 2020 peer group that comprised of 17 technology, software and professional services companies including IBM, Accenture and Salesforce selected based on industry, comparable business operations and scale, including with respect to revenue, market capitalisation and headcount.
Cognizant’s revenue growth has lagged those of its peers for the past few years. Humphries’ restructuring is yet to demonstrate a sustainable return to a strong growth path. “Cognizant has to compete with a resurgent Infosys, a mighty TCS, an aggressive HCL and a revitalising Wipro. In addition to Accenture’s renewed aggression in the market,” said Phil Fersht, CEO of US-based HfS Research.
He said the Cognizant board has its eyes wide open and understands the challenges the firm needs to go through to improve its financial performance. “Its support of Brian’s aggressive M&A strategy is a testament to their faith in him. In addition, Cognizant had to deal with a crippling ransomware attack, in addition to Covid, in 2020 which made Brian’s job very difficult. Having said that, Cognizant’s 2020 performance was solid until their write-down in Q4 of the failed investment in Samlink, which tarnished the overall financial performance for the year,” he said.
Cognizant had acquired Finnish IT developer Samlink in 2019 as part of a deal to build and operate a shared core banking platform. A few months ago, Cognizant had to exit the engagement.