Ten or fifteen years ago, the vast majority of stock option plans covered only the top five or ten people in the firm. And, for that matter, most of the money in ‘regular employee’ stock ownership plans belonged to the top tier too. Then came the technology boom, and soon, the dot-com boom - and a mad scramble to attract the ‘best and brightest’ with stock options and awards...and with it, a huge boom in “Global Plans” – where options were issued to all employees – including employees that, increasingly, are located all over the globe.
And over the past few years, while huge numbers of options are still out there, and while option plans are still important, there’s been a big surge in Restricted Shares and Performance Shares and “Phantom Shares” – bringing another big increase in complexity where recordkeeping, reporting, participant education and execution are concerned. Whenever your editor speaks on shareholder services at an industry conferences he asks for a show of hands from people who are “completely satisfied” with their employee-plan service providers. Hardly a hand is raised!
So what should you look for in a Plan Provider? The number one item in our book (and readers, your editor was directly involved in developing and offering such services for many years) is the size, financial strength, reputation, experience and staying power of the firm you choose. Aside from the overall importance here, never forget that it’s the Board - and your top-execs - who’ll want the final say. What do they most want? Fast and flawless execution, rock-bottom commissions...and, in our experience, red-carpet treatment.
What should you most want after the most essential needs of your bosses are met? These days, we say, it’s the tightest possible control and compliance environment – to be sure that YOUR back is being properly watched...along with the simplest and easiest-to-use ‘tools’ you can possibly find…along with flexibility where delivery systems are concerned – to meet the constantly evolving programs those comp-consultants come up with.
Ideally, one would like to have a single provider for all employee plans, which makes life much, much simpler. But sadly, many of them get straight As for some services, but Cs and Ds for others, so do your homework with care, we advise.
Increasingly, given the fact that so many of these plans are truly ‘global’ - you need a provider that has a truly global presence...and the ability to ACT LOCALLY.
Lastly, we must note the fact that many of the tools we see our corporate friends and colleagues using are badly in need of checking...if not an outright chucking! We will be publishing more on this too in future issues.
American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, LLC (AST) is a full-service, tech-enabled professional services firm that helps companies and shareholders across North America maintain momentum through the use of secure corporate data, analytics, advisory services, and a strategic approach to every interaction. AST was originally founded as a transfer agent in 1971. Through organic growth and strategic acquisitions, AST pioneered a new model of integrated services in the industry. Our affiliates now include AST Trust Company (Canada), D.F. King & Co., Inc., and Donlin, Recano & Company, Inc. Together, we lead the industry with a comprehensive portfolio that includes transfer agent and registrar services, corporate governance and advisory services, issuer and mutual fund proxy services, equity plan solutions, restructuring services, and class action and mission critical services.
Call (877) 814-9687 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information regarding our services.
Ellen Philip Associates, Inc.
We’re a valuable resource to have in your corner. As independent tabulators we’ve been part of the shareholder services community for close to 40 years. Our principal focus is on employee plans, not only on regular pass-through voting but on the processes associated with non-routine situations such as proxy contests, tender offers and other corporate actions.
You’ll find that we have a blue-chip reputation, that we’re flexible and responsive, and that our practices are set to the highest standards.
We work hand in glove with plan trustees, administrators, record keepers, transfer agents and proxy solicitors. We’ve been through the mill. We understand the detail of the process and we’re quick off the mark. We help in planning. Our procedures have withstood challenges over time and meet the highest standards of corporate governance. Ours is a flexible, tailored to your situation service that includes whatever you need in document development and printing and mailing, also a state of the art system for Internet and telephone collection of voting instructions, together with online, real-time tabulations and reports.
(212) 807-0477 • www.ellenphilip.com