Compiled By Dave Schafer Which would you rather have: stock options or benefits? Your decision may influence whether you want to sit on the board of directors for a large company or a small-to-midsized firm. According to a study by The Segal Co., more large companies offer benefits while small-to-midsized companies grant more initial stock options and more ongoing annual awards to directors than do large companies. The "Annual Study of Small-to-Midsize and Large Public Company Boards: 2001" examined 189 large public companies with median annual sales of $17 billion and 180 small-to-midsized companies with median annual sales of $154 million. The purpose of the study was to examine and compare key aspects of the composition and operation of boards of directors at such companies, says Segal, New York-based benefits, compensation, and human-resources consultants. Based on analysis of public information available as of Dec. 31, 1999, the study finds 68% of large companies offer deferred compensation plans, 18% offer life insurance, and 16% offer retirement plans. In contrast, less than 2% of small-to-midsized companies offer any one of those three. But small-to-midsize companies grant more initial stock options and more ongoing annual awards to directors than do large companies. This year's median initial stock-option grants of 8,250 for small-to-midsized companies is nearly three times the 3,000 awarded at large companies but is also a decrease of 17.5% from the same study last year. The median annual ongoing award of stock options at small-to-midsized companies is 5,000 compared with 3,500 at large companies. Median ongoing stock-option grants for small-to-midsize companies was 4,000 in 2000. For large companies, the median was 2,500.