Say-on-pay votes can't force change, but they can send a powerful message. Case in point: Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK) in Little Rock, Ark.

The $5 billion-asset company said last week that it would change how it awards bonuses, after the approval rate of its annual vote on executive pay fell to 64% from 96% a year earlier. While the nonbinding measure passed, the tally was low enough to prompt the company to make changes to align its policies with the preferences of proxy-advisory firms.

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