The NASPP Blog

October 27, 2016

More Scenes from Houston

For today’s blog entry, I have a few more scenes from the 24th Annual NASPP Conference here in Houston.

nasppweb-0702Terry Adamson of Aon Hewitt explains what post-vesting holding periods can do for your company in the Presentation Arena.  The Arena featured fast-paced talks on current hot topics in 20 minutes of less.  It was conferencing for people with short attention spans.

nasppweb-0823The NASPP Conference is all about making connections.

nasppweb-0992Ellie Kehmeier of Steele Consulting and Danielle Benderly of Perkins Coie are excited to have a chance to chat with Senator Wendy Davis, who presented a thought-provoking and very well-received keynote on Tuesday morning.

nasppweb-0997Attendees get advice from an expert. The Ask the Experts booth is a great way to get answers to your questions.

paEveryone loves a great session! Attendees listen intently to a panel and quietly discuss how the information presented applies to their company.

– Barbara


October 26, 2016

Scenes from Houston

Saddle up, cowpoke! I’m here in Houston for the 24th Annual NASPP Conference. For today’s blog entry, I have a few pictures of happenings around the Conference.

ft-handshake New this year, we started off the Conference with a special reception for issuers attending for the first time, sponsored by Charles Schwab. Here, two first-timers make a connection.

wd-breakfastFormer Texas Senator Wendy Davis presented the opening keynote. The top ranking players in the PhotoPlay game in the app were invited to a private breakfast with her.

sean-and-stacySean McLaughlin of Fidelity and Stacy Fox of Salesforce are excited to see each other again this year.

latte Grabbing the morning latte in the NASPP Café, sponsored by UBS.

ubsAttendees share a laugh in the UBS booth.

– Barbara


October 21, 2016

Making Sense of Europe

Our popular “Meet the Speaker” series, featuring interviews with speakers at the 24th Annual NASPP Conference, is great way to get to know our many distinguished speakers and find out a little more about their sessions in advance of the Conference.

For today’s “Meet the Speaker” interview, we feature Bob Grayson of Tapestry Compliance, who will lead the session “Making Sense of Europe.”

Here is what Bob had to say:

NASPP: Why is Europe a particularly timely topic right now?

Bob: This summer the UK voted to the leave the European Union. The process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is unprecedented and the withdrawal process is unknown. The exit will need to be negotiated with the EU and the UK and it is possible that other members of the EU will also start to review their relationship with the EU.  Many UK laws are based on EU Directives and Regulations. The UK will take time to consider what will be changed where certain laws are no longer required by virtue of EU membership. So laws relevant to share plans based on EU Directives and Regulations like data privacy, employment and securities laws have not immediately changed in the UK, but it is possible that they will do in the medium to long term if the UK decides not to follow the route adopted by the EU.  As well as looking at how laws are made in the EU we will also look at this hot topic about what laws Britain may change as a result of “Brexit.” We will explore this in detail in our “making sense of Europe” presentation.

NASPP: What is a common mistake companies make and how can they avoid this?

Bob: A common mistake is to assume that there is always a uniform or “one size fits all” position in Europe. The EU was supposed to be a “single market.” It does not, however, have one set of laws which apply across the EU. European law takes the form of either a directive or a regulation. A regulation is a legal act of the EU that becomes immediately enforceable as law in all member states simultaneously (e.g., the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No 596/2014) which came into effect on 3 July 2016).  Directives, however, need to be transposed into national law and therefore offer some flexibility for member states in implementing them. As long as the objective is achieved, stricter requirements may be implemented if a member state wishes. This has resulted in significant inconsistencies in the EU. For example, the European Prospectus Directive 2003/71/EC (as amended) provides some de minimis thresholds whereby for offers falling below those thresholds, no prospectus is required. One of those is where the total consideration for the offer in the EU is less than €5 million (calculated over 12 months). But the Netherlands for example have set this at €2.5 million.  To avoid this common mistake—be careful! Do not assume that the position in one member state is the same as another. Advice should be obtained in each member state particularly in relation to aspects fundamental to running a compliant incentive program such as whether a prospectus is required or the data protection requirements to be applied when transferring participant’s data.

NASPP: What is the silver lining to compliance in Europe?

Bob: Europe is difficult—but it is not impenetrable. Companies have to adopt a sensible European compliance program relative to their businesses that is defensible on audit. So companies should make themselves aware of the difficulties, issues and risks and use specialists who know the pitfalls and the solutions. It is therefore possible to “make sense of Europe”!

NASPP: What is something people don’t know about you?

Bob: One of us is a cheese connoisseur and can name (and correctly guess the weight of!) over 150 different cheeses, the other lived in and taught at a school in Lesotho—guess which is which!

Don’t miss Bob’s session, “Making Sense of Europe,” at the NASPP Conference!

About the NASPP Conference

The 24th Annual NASPP Conference will be held from October 24-27 in Houston. This year’s program features close to 100 sessions on today’s most timely topics in stock and executive compensation; check out the full agenda. Online registration is now closed but we are happy to register attendees onsite in Houston.

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October 20, 2016

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Stock Plan Administration Consultants

Our popular “Meet the Speaker” series, featuring interviews with speakers at the 24th Annual NASPP Conference, is great way to get to know our many distinguished speakers and find out a little more about their sessions in advance of the Conference.

For today’s “Meet the Speaker” interview, we feature Dee Crosby of the CEP Institute, who will lead the session “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Stock Plan Administration Consultants

Here is what Dee had to say:

NASPP: Why is a panel about consultants particularly timely right now?

Dee: Many departments are being asked to do more and more without a lot of additional resources, so hiring consultants is becoming more and more common. Our panel is composed of individuals who have worked as consultants and have hired consultants. We will share our experiences so you can leave with a better understanding of how to hire the right person—or firm—for the work that you need.  And with the increased demand for consultants, people might be tempted to travel down the consulting career path themselves.  We will point out the pros and cons, and share some insights into the world of equity consulting.

NASPP: What is a common mistake companies make when hiring consultants and how can they avoid this?

Dee: Most companies do not use an RFP process when hiring a consultant.  And that leads to misunderstanding, scope creep, and unhappy companies and consultants.  We will highlight the importance of an RFP (even if it just a scope of work!) and share how this can greatly enhance the overall experience—for both the company and the consultant!

NASPP: What is the silver lining to hiring consultants who specialize in stock plan administration?

Dee: Consultants in our industry are very experienced.  As a result, they often add more value than initially envisioned when a consulting project is scoped out.  This benefits the consultants as well as the companies hiring the consultants.  Plus, adding consultants to your network is a definite asset in the equity compensation world.

NASPP: What is something people don’t know about you?

Dee: My real name is Dolores, but everyone calls me Dee, except for my family. They call me Lori.

Don’t miss Dee’s session, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Stock Plan Administration Consultants,” at the NASPP Conference!

About the NASPP Conference

The 24th Annual NASPP Conference will be held from October 24-27 in Houston. This year’s program features close to 100 sessions on today’s most timely topics in stock and executive compensation; check out the full agenda and register today!

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October 19, 2016

Ten Things to Do at the NASPP Conference

Instead of the usual NASPP To Do List, today I have ten things for you to do at the 24th Annual NASPP Conference (in addition to going to the sessions, of course).  The Conference begins next Monday, October 24 in Houston, TX.  We are taking online registrations through this Thursday, October 20, and we are happy to accept walk-in registrations onsite.

Listen to the Know Before You Go Podcast: Can’t be bothered to read this list? I’m happy to read it to you: check out my podcast, Ten Things to Do at the 24th Annual NASPP Conference. It will only take less than ten minutes of your day. You can find the podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast source by searching for “Equity Expert.”

Ok, here are my ten things:

1. Conference App: Your digital guide to the NASPP Conference, the app includes the attendee list, the agenda, session materials, speaker bios, and maps. But it’s more than that—we’ll use the app to push out important announcements about happenings at the Conference. Download the app today and can get started on the PhotoPlay game, which will earn you a chance at a $200 gift certificate or breakfast with Senator Wendy Davis.

2. Opening Night Welcome Reception: Start the Conference off on a high note by attending the opening night welcome reception, sponsored by Computershare and featuring the Purple Rain cocktail. Make new friends and catch up with people you haven’t seen since last year.

If you are an issuer attending for the first time, be sure to attend the First-Time Attendees’ Reception, just before the opening reception. You can meet the NASPP leadership, our chapter presidents, and get a head start on making friends.

3. Wake Up for the Keynotes: Don’t stay out too late, because you’ll want to get up early for our keynote presentations. On Tuesday morning, we’ll feature Wendy Davis, the former Texas Senator and founder of Deeds not Words. Then on Wednesday morning, I will unveil the NASPP’s new website and our new look. It’s going to be great and you don’t want to miss it.

4. Check Out the Presentation Arena: The Presentation Arena is a stage in the exhibit hall where we will host fast-paced, 20 minute talks during the refreshment breaks and the lunches—sort of conferencing for people with short attention spans.

5. Have a Discussion: Our small group discussions, offered during the breakout sessions, are a great way to connect with other attendees on the challenges you are struggling with today. Each session is a facilitated discussion among attendees. Come prepared to share your own questions and experiences—no panelists, no presentation, and no PowerPoint. Search for “small” in the app to find a handy list of all of them.

6. Get More Out of Lunch: The luncheon roundtable discussions on Wednesday are another great way to connect with your fellow attendees. Grab lunch, find a table discussing a topic you are interested in, and join the discussion.

7. Ask an Expert: The NASPP is the largest gathering of subject matter experts in the industry—if you have questions, our Conference is a great place to get answers. Consult an expert in the Ask the Experts booth or visit one of the nearly 40 other subject matter experts who have volunteered to be available for questions in their booths. These are not sales people; it’s an impressive list of subject matter experts who can answer technical and practical questions on stock compensation. There’s no reason to leave the Conference with unanswered questions.

8. Grab a Latte: You should also be sure to check out the NASPP Café. The Café is set up in the 4th floor HUB, outside of the exhibit hall and is a convenient place purchase a latte or other fancy coffee drink, relax for a moment, or have a conversation.  UBS has sponsored the Café and has worked with our event staff to create a coffee-house feel.

9. Visit the Smoothie Bar: New this year, we are introducing the NASPP Lounge, which is also located in the 4th floor HUB, outside the exhibit hall.  The lounge is another place where you can take a moment to relax, enjoy a conversation with a colleague, and buy a glass of wine, a soda, or whatever your beverage of choice is.   Charles Schwab, the lounge sponsor, will be hosting a smoothie bar in the lounge during the morning breaks on Tuesday and Wednesday.

10: Earn a Chance at $200 (and see the Monte Carlo Raffletron in Action).  One way to do this is to take the PhotoPlay challenge, which is a game included in the Conference app. It is sort of like a scavenger hunt that you complete by taking pictures.  You earn points for each challenge you complete. For each 50 points that you earn by 1:00 PM on Wednesday you are entered in a raffle to win a $200 gift certificate.  Some of the challenges are worth up to ten points—you could earn a raffle entry by completing as few as five challenges.

In addition, you could win the chance to have breakfast with Senator Wendy Davis.  The 15 players with the highest scores at the end of the opening reception will be invited to breakfast with Senator Davis on Tuesday morning.

Another way to earn a chance at a $200 gift card is to participate in the Passport game.  Your conference bag will include a passport that you can have stamped by each of the exhibitors.  Every stamp you collect earns you another entry in the raffle.

Aon Hewitt will be selecting the raffle winners for both the PhotoPlay and the Passport games using their nifty Raffletron 2400 at 2:30 PM in the presentation arena.  If you haven’t seen the Raffletron in action, you should definitely check it out.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Houston!

– Barbara


October 18, 2016

Three Steps That Can Increase the Value Employees Place on Equity Awards

Today’s blog features guest author Thierry Vo of UBS Equity Plan Advisory Services, writing about the factors that correlate to participants placing greater value on their equity awards.

Three Steps That Can Increase the Value Employees Place on Equity Awards

By Thierry Vo, UBS Equity Plan Advisory Services

How do employees view their equity awards? Would employees value these awards more if they had advice that helped them integrate equity compensation with their broader financial plans?  What tangible steps can employees take to recognize the value of equity awards?

These are just several of the questions UBS Participant Voice, an industry wide survey of equity plan participants, sought to answer using the UBS Equity Award Value Index, which measures the value employees place on their awards on a scale of 0-100. With companies granting more than $110 billion in equity to their employees each year*, understanding their participants’ attitudes toward these awards is critical.

The research found that while 32% of participants from a cross-section of industries and service providers see their awards as having high or considerable value (80-100 on the Index), 45% perceive little or no value in their equity (0-40 on the Index)—a concerning figure.

The UBS Participant Voice took the research one step further, conducting an industry-wide survey of more than 1,000 participants that sought to answer the question: What do employees who value their equity awards do differently?

Using the UBS Equity Award Value Index, UBS identified three key steps taken by employees who place high value on their equity awards:

  • Planning—Those who incorporate equity compensation into an overall financial plan have a more optimistic outlook toward the importance of equity awards than those who do not.
  • Advice—Those who discussed their equity with a financial advisor value their equity compensation holdings more than those who have not.
  • Diversification—Participants who diversify their company stock holdings value their awards more than those who do not.

The real impact for participants comes from combining all three: planning, advice and diversification. The survey found that participants who have taken all three steps place twice as much value on their equity awards and have greater confidence about reaching their goals.

This survey shows that advice can prove instrumental in helping participants appreciate their equity awards.  It clearly highlights that participants who practice these three steps place higher value on their equity compensation awards.

For further detail about the survey’s results, read the full issue of UBS Participant Voice: The Multiplier Effect.

To learn more about how equity plan participants perceive more value from their awards, visit the UBS website or contact UBS by e-mailing or calling 866-706-2727.

* Equilar, Inc. Based on 2,885 companies in the Russell 3000 that have fiscal year-ends of July 31, 2012, or more recent, and valued the grant-date fair value of options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock and stock unit awards granted by companies during the most recent fiscal year. All information was pulled from the 10-K and was calculated using company-disclosed figures for grant-date fair value.

thierry-voThierry is the Head of Product for UBS Equity Plan Advisory Services (“EPAS”), leading the creation and execution of the product vision for UBS’ stock plan business that supports both corporate clients and their participants.

With over 15 years of experience in financial services—12 of them directly in equity compensationThierry possesses a keen understanding of the complex issues facing the industry’s key constituencies. He has extensive experience designing flexible solutions to meet the industry’s evolving needs. Through his roles at several major service providers, he has had the opportunity to collaborate directly with many leaders in the field. These experiences have allowed him to develop a unique perspective on how to address the diverse challenges confronting issuers and recipients of equity compensation.

Thierry has spoken nationally and internationally on a variety of industry topics. As an active member of both the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP) and the Global Equity Organization (GEO), where he has also served as a Board member, Thierry has consistently kept his finger on the pulse of the industry to prepare for what’s next.

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October 17, 2016

Joint Texas Chapter Meeting

The first ever joint meeting of the Austin, Dallas, and Houston NASPP chapters will be held in conjunction with the 24th Annual NASPP Conference.  Join the chapters for the following presentation:

Topic:  ESPPs: Hot or Hype?
ESPPs are hotter than ever….or so you keep hearing. They have to live up to very high standards: encourage broad based employee stock ownership, minimize compensation cost, help employees save for the future, to name a few.  Should you believe the hype?  There’s been a lot of talk about the resurgence of the ESPP, but what are companies actually doing?  Harrison Celone and Patrick Gabel of Aon Hewitt will identify the latest trends in ESPP design and how various plan design features impact participation rates. (Monday, October 24, 2:00 PM)

The meeting is open to everyone; you don’t have to be registered for the Conference to attend. In addition, all attendees are invited to the Conference Opening Reception following the meeting.

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October 13, 2016

Equity Compensation for a Global Workforce: The Comp Team’s View

Our popular “Meet the Speaker” series, featuring interviews with speakers at the 24th Annual NASPP Conference, is great way to get to know our many distinguished speakers and find out a little more about their sessions in advance of the Conference.

For today’s “Meet the Speaker” interview, we feature Jon Doyle of International Law Solutions, who will lead the session “Equity Compensation for a Global Workforce: The Comp Team’s View

Here is what Jon had to say:

NASPP: What is the most critical thing NASPP Conference attendees need to know about equity compensation offered globally?

Jon: The importance of making well-informed decisions concerning what, where, and to whom to offer equity compensation around the world.

NASPP: What are one best practice companies should implement?

Jon: Involve compensation, tax, finance, legal and other stakeholders in the decision-making process.

NASPP: What is the silver lining to your topic?

Jon: By including stakeholders in the process, the company will make better decisions and as a result have a more successful global equity compensation program.

NASPP: What is your favorite restaurant or tourist attraction in Houston?

Jon: NASA’s Space Center

Don’t miss Jon’s session, “Equity Compensation for a Global Workforce: The Comp Team’s View,” at the NASPP Conference!

About the NASPP Conference

The 24th Annual NASPP Conference will be held from October 24-27 in Houston. This year’s program features close to 100 sessions on today’s most timely topics in stock and executive compensation; check out the full agenda and register today!

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October 12, 2016

NASPP To Do List

Less Than Two Weeks Left!
The 24th Annual NASPP Conference is less than two weeks away. The Conference will be held from October 24-27 in Houston. Register today!

NASPP To Do List
Here’s your NASPP To Do List for the week:



October 11, 2016

Tax Deferrals for Private Company Stock Comp?

This past summer, both the Senate and House of Representatives introduced legislation that seek to defer taxation on some forms of stock compensation issued by private companies. There looks to be some hope of passing at least one of the bills; in today’s blog I’ll catch you up on the topic.

The Proposals

Both the House and Senate bills closely matched in terms of what they proposed in their initial drafts. In September, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the House bill (known as HR 5719, with some proposed amendments), clearing the way for the floor of the House of Representatives to vote on their bill.

Taxes Deferred?

In an attempt to address a longstanding issue with private company stock and stock compensation (illiquidity), the proposed bills represent an opportunity for private company employees vesting in RSUs or exercising non-qualified stock options to defer taxation on those instruments for up to 7 years. Given that many companies of private companies face a hurdle of paying taxes on shares they receive but can’t sell (at exercise for an NQSO and vest for an RSU), this deferral of taxes could be very welcome news, and promote the ability for these employees to more easily exercise their stock options and acquire RSU shares. This could help to underscore the value that many private companies place upon the place of equity vehicles in their compensation programs.

The new legislation, if passed, would essentially amend Section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code to add a subsection.


A memo written by Compensia (“Congress Considers Legislation to Postpone Taxation of Private Company Equity Awards,” September 19, 2016) on the topic evaluates the possible outcomes for the proposals and areas to watch. In particular, of note is that as drafted, the proposals would only defer taxes on grants that were issued in a year when at least 80% of employees received a grant. Per Compensia, “In other words, if a company did not make a broad-based grant in a particular calendar year, none of the awards granted during that year will be eligible for tax deferral.” As Compensia elaborates,

“Further, the bills’ reference to all employees having the “same rights and privileges” is potentially problematic. To the extent that this language is intended to prohibit de minimis awards to some groups of employees, it may present problems for venture-backed companies.

It is also worth noting that the bills are silent on several matters that will be of importance to the granting company and the employees receiving the awards. For example, it is not clear whether the grants or awards must conform to a specific design. Most privately-held companies structure their broad-based equity grants as simple time-based awards. Presumably, these arrangements will continue to be sufficient to ensure that the underlying shares are considered “qualified stock.”

What’s Next?

The House bill, HR 5719, will now make its way to the House of Representatives for consideration. Compensia notes that “while the Senate has yet to act on its version of the bill, with the November election looming, it is possible that these bills could see a final vote before Congress adjourns at the end of the month.”

Stay tuned for developments in this area.