Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation

Designing benefits in a complex legal and regulatory landscape

To sustain a competitive advantage, companies often need sophisticated compensation and benefits programs. That is the reason clients choose Dechert for their experience in designing, developing and helping to implement their benefits and compensation programs, ranging from equity and performance-based compensation to tax-qualified retirement plans and broad-based ERISA welfare plans, in the increasingly challenging and complex legal tax and regulatory landscape.

Benefits and compensation also play a key role in many corporate transactions. With significant experience with high-tech start-ups, large multinational corporations and global financial organizations, we have been an integral part of M&A transactions and international expansion projects covering all facets of employee benefits and executive compensation including:

  • Retirement programs
  • Executive compensation 
  • Equity and equity-based compensation 
  • Health and welfare

Further, with a global footprint and support of a robust international labor and employment group, we offer clients a comprehensive approach to the intricacies of tax, labor and securities laws and requirements.

We also have one of the world’s most sophisticated fiduciary practices, supporting our market-leading financial services practice. We frequently assist in the design and implementation of investment funds and other financial products, both for financial institutions and plan investors. 

Employee benefits consulting

Dechert’s benefits consulting services focus on the design and administration of benefit plans that will help employers attract and retain the talent they need. We assist clients with the following types of plans in this area:

  • Health, life, and disability insurance plans 
  • 401(k), defined benefit, ESOP and other retirement plans 
  • Employee stock purchase plans 
  • Severance plans 
  • ERISA, Internal Revenue Code, Affordable Care Act and HIPAA Compliance
Executive compensation

We have extensive experience in the executive compensation area, particularly in the increasingly important areas of Section 409A compliance, Institutional Shareholder Services guidance and equity compensation arrangements. We assist employers in structuring and administering the following types of arrangements for executives and directors:

  • Executive employment, separation and change in control agreements
  • Performance-based incentive compensation plans
  • Nonqualified deferred compensation plans. 

Dechert lawyers know the “market” and advise companies and directors on the governance, tax and accounting issues under the applicable federal and state laws that are often crucial in structuring these arrangements for both private and publically traded companies. 

Mergers and acquisitions

Our employee benefits and executive compensation team plays an active role in the Firm’s diverse corporate and securities practice, particularly in the area of mergers and acquisitions.

We advise on wide variety of M&A transactions that come with a number of important employee benefits and executive compensation considerations. These include determining the benefit plan liability exposure; making appropriate arrangements to deal with those liabilities, whether by way of appropriate valuations or obtaining indemnification; replacing welfare plans; dealing with COBRA coverage issues; establishing new tax-qualified retirement plans when appropriate; and assisting with the design and establishment of equity-based and other executive compensation arrangements.

Fiduciary advice/ERISA compliance

We work extensively with some of the largest financial services organizations in the world on ERISA fiduciary and other similar issues. We have handled ERISA issues and projects for numerous investment advisers and fund complexes. In addition, we provide substantial ERISA advice to sponsors of alternative investment products.

Our lawyers have assisted clients in providing a full range of retirement planning services to their retirement plan customers, including provision of required disclosures, proxy voting and tax withholding, and have designed compliance guidelines to help clients deal with retirement plan customers. We regularly advise the firm’s many mutual fund clients on ERISA issues regarding the distribution arrangements for their fund shares, contracts with third parties, and the structuring of products to be marketed to the retirement plan community.