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Four Considerations for Automating Equity Plan Processes

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Four Considerations for Automating Equity Plan Processes

By Kelly Geerts, CEP, E*TRADE Financial Corporate Services, Inc.

Companies continue to face pressure to do more with less. Automation is gaining higher priority among stock plan administrators as they look for ways to become more efficient.

During this year's NASPP Conference, attendees of The 3 P’s of Global Payroll Success: Proactive, Positive, and Partnership panel explored the challenges and opportunities organizations face with process automation. Interestingly, while more than 85% of attendees noted that they have support from their business partners and/or leadership team to automate their processes, only 50% have automation in place.

So, why aren’t more companies automated? For many, it comes down to resources. While automation can help streamline internal processes in the long run, many considerations go into the implementation. Before stock plan administrators execute new automation strategies, think about the following:

  1.  Cost of automation. Do providers (both payroll and equity administration) support automation out of the box, or are there additional fees to develop an integration solution? Stock plan administrators must also determine if there are unexpected costs to implementation, such as IT resources, project management resources, or use of knowledgeable employees internally to support the effort.
  2. Stakeholder buy-in. Do organizational leaders and business partners see the value in implementing automation? It’s imperative that leadership understands the overall goals of automation so they can properly allocate the necessary resources and engage key stakeholders to support the project.
  3. Time constraints. Does the payroll team have enough time alongside scheduled and ad hoc payroll runs to support the effort? Additionally, does the equity administration team have enough time in between trade processing, grant updates, payroll updates, insider reporting, financial reporting, and disclosure reporting to support the effort? Plan administrators need to understand which resources can allocate extra hours in their day-to-day work to also support an 8–12-week project.
  4. Technical expertise. Are there internal resources who are familiar with payroll processes and systems in addition to equity administration processes and systems? Plan administrators need to consider whether there are existing resources who know how to document and analyze the current processes in order to develop a change management plan. Familiarity with building test cases and validating outcomes in a test environment is essential. This may require multiple internal resources with differing expertise.

With no shortage of roadblocks facing plan administrators, finding a platform and a provider that can help take full advantage of automation is crucial to increase efficiency across the board. From optimizing processes to implementing new feature functionality to integrating systems, automation can serve as a critical component to help your business.

Read more thought leadership on the E*TRADE Corporate Services website.

Kelly Geerts is a Director with E*TRADE Financial Corporate Services, Inc., and responsible for leading the Advanced Solutions team. With more than 20 years of experience in deploying end-to-end equity best practices on the issuer side, Kelly brings a practical approach to a broad range of equity administration processes. Prior to joining E*TRADE, she managed the global process and strategy for Apple Inc.'s equity programs, in addition to many aspects of payroll, tax, accounting, and equity administration.

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