Move over Bezos: Meet the highest paid CEO you’ve never heard of

Paycom founder Chad Richison is now the highest-paid CEO in the S&P 500 after he was awarded a compensation package worth more than $200m (£145m).

In an annual proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Paycom, an online payroll and human resource technology provider based in Oklahoma City, revealed that it had awarded Mr Richison $211m (£153m) in compensation in 2020.

Mr Richison, 50, who started Paycom in 1998, was also awarded 1.61 million restricted shares in November as part of the compensation, which he will only receive if the company’s share price more than doubles by 2030.

If he is awarded the shares, then the CEO could have close to 2bn (£1.4bn) added to his personal wealth, with the shares currently estimated to be worth around $702m (£510m), according to The Wall Street Journal.

Mr Richison will also receive half of the shares before 2030 if Paycom’s stock price stays above $1,000 (£727.24) for 20 consecutive trading days within six years. The price is currently at less than $400 (£290.98).

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The 50-year-old has run Paycom since founding it in 1998, taking the technology company public in 2014, with its stock price rising by 108.72 per cent over the last year alone.

Mr Richison’s compensation package is considered to be one of the five-largest awards to a CEO since 2010, according to the Journal citing MyLogIQ data.

Apple CEO Tim Cook received the second-highest award in 2011 worth $378m (£274m), while Tesla CEO Elon Musk tops the list with shares awarded worth around $2.3bn (£1.6bn) in 2018.

Chairman of the Paycom board’s compensation committee, Jason Clark, told the Journal that the full award of shares will only be granted if Mr Richison achieves “aggressive performance goals”.

“Mr Richison’s recent performance equity award is structured to align with stockholders’ interests, as it requires significant value creation for them before he can realise any value from the grant,” Mr Clark said.

He added: “This award is entirely dependent on Mr Richison achieving aggressive performance goals – which will generate tremendous value for our stockholders.”

Mr Richison will not be keeping the full package if the goal is achieved however, as he signed the Giving Pledge created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett last year, publicly promising to give away at least half his wealth.

Outlining his ethos in a letter accompanying his signing of the pledge, Mr Richison said: “Long ago, this company surpassed anything I could have achieved alone, and our accomplishments are the sum of everyone’s efforts.”

Mr Richison, who grew up in Tuttle, Oklahoma, also revealed in that letter that his first business as a teenager was “hauling hay,” adding that he “learned early on that you have to work hard, honour your commitments and surround yourself with good people because no one does it alone.”

The world’s billionaires added more than $5 trillion (£3.6 trillion) to their wealth over the last year, with the richest 2,755 people on earth amassing more than $13 trillion (£9.4 trillion) amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

That list, compiled annually by Forbes, grew roughly 30 per cent from a list published just one year ago, an increase of 660 people to a list of 2,755 billionaires.

Of the list, 86 per cent are much wealthier today than they were one year ago, at the onset of a global health crisis and its economic fallout that has left millions of people jobless in the US in the months that followed.

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