Stock Plan Participant Attitudes
IMAGE: Hyejin Kang / 123rf.com

As one of the first surveys to report statistics by gender as well as age, the recently released biennial Fidelity Stock Plan Services Participant Survey highlights a unique opportunity for advisors to provide equity compensation guidance and education to not one, but two niche groups.

Women

While 66% of men reported understanding their stock plans “very well,” only 48% of women reported the same. When asked if they were aware of the tax implications of selling the stock in their stock plans, only 32% of women (vs. 47% of men) believed they had a good understanding of the concepts.

Though the overall understanding of stock plan details was lesser for women than men, female respondents were seemingly more aware of the overall impact of their stock plans in relation to their career. A higher percentage of women reported stock plan availability as being an important consideration in changing jobs (49% vs. 45% of men) as well as less desire to give up stock plan benefits when considering a job change (40% vs. 31%.) Women also reported that their stock plans gave them greater levels of satisfaction, loyalty, and motivation in the workplace.

Millennials

A difference can also be seen in relation to age and the level of understanding of one’s stock plan; 62% of older surveyed participants reported understanding their stock plans “very well” compared to 55% of Millennials. While only 28% of Millennials (vs. 44% of older respondents) believed they had a good understanding of the tax implications of selling the stock in their stock plan, and only 42% included the value of their stock plan when calculating their total compensation.

While stock plan availability was also more important to millennial respondents (50%) than it was to their older counterparts (47%), younger respondents did not report higher levels of satisfaction, loyalty or motivation in the workplace as a result of their stock plan. Why?

Education

The survey found a continued trend in the correlation between participant comprehension of their stock plan and overall workplace satisfaction, in other words, the better a participant understands their plan, the higher their reported loyalty, motivation, and satisfaction.

Unsurprisingly, women and millennials both reported a greater interest in stock plan education than their counterparts, with 51% of each group reporting they were “very interested” in stock plan education.

Takeaway

These findings represent an opportunity for advisors to engage female and millennial stock plan participants by providing them with insightful information about their equity compensation holdings that isn't included in the company's basic educational offerings.

An effective way for financial advisors to engage plan participants is to introduce them to the 5 things they should know about their employer stock and options. Unlike basic equity compensation concepts, these things help clients make timely, informed and profitable decisions. The StockOpter Personal Equity Compensation Analysis includes these concepts and provides estimated after-tax values which establishes a framework for making proactive diversification and reinvestment decisions.

The key to increasing workplace loyalty, motivation and satisfaction is NOT via "stock compensation 101" programs. It's by showing plan participants when to take action and how to avoid mistakes. That's what all participants want but in particular women and millennials which translates into an opportunity for financial advisors that can provide personalized equity compensation guidance.

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