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ESPP Matchup

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June 14, 2011 | Barbara Baksa

ESPP Matchup

I recently completed an analysis of how ESPPs in the western United States compare to plans nationally and I thought my readers might be interested in how the results came out. I'll be presenting the data during my panel "Pumping Up Purchase Plans: Re-Thinking the ESPP" at the Silicon Valley NASPP Chapter All-Day Conference, but I thought I'd give you a sneak peak.

ESPP Match-Up: The West vs. the Rest
The data I'm comparing is from the NASPP's 2007 Domestic Stock Plan Design and Administration Survey (co-sponsored by Deloitte). I asked Deloitte to run a special cut of the data that just includes companies in the west and I compared that to the national data we published. While the data are several years old, I don't think ESPP design has changed significantly.  We'll know for sure later this year, when we publish the results of our 2010 Domestic Stock Plan Administration Survey. Hopefully you participated, so you'll have access to the results.

First, a Note About the Participants

Of the companies in the western region:

  • 71% are high-tech companies (vs. about 46% high-tech for the national data).
  • 74% are companies in CA and 12% are companies in WA. The remaining companies are in CO, OR, ID, NV, WY.
  • 21% are Fortune 500 companies.

Now, For the Results

93% of respondents in the western region that offer an ESPP, offer a Section 423 plan, compared to only 77% of respondents nationally.  Because the incidence of Section 423 plans is so high in the west (and non-423 plans so few), the remaining data I present here are for Section 423 plans only.

Of those western region companies that offer a Section 423 ESPP:

  • 89% offer a 15% discount (compared to 79% nationally)
  • 81% base their purchase price on the lower of the beginning or ending FMV (compared to 66% nationally)

22% of western region companies have a 24-month offering period (compared to 19% nationally). Six-month offering periods are also more prevalent in the west (58% of western region respondents compared to 48% nationally).

So what offering length is used more frequently nationally than in the west? A whopping 18% of respondents in the national data have a three-month offering period, compared to only 9% of respondents in the western region. I had no idea three-month offerings were so popular nationally--I actually went back and checked the data again, just to make sure. Yep, 18%. That's almost as many respondents as offer a 24-month offering at the national level (although it's still less than half the number of national respondents that have a six-month offering). 12-month offerings are also slightly more popular in the national data than in the western region (11% nationally vs. 8% in the western region.)

Given that ESPPs are more frequently used and more generous in the west, does that translate into higher levels of participation? You bet it does! 48% of companies in the western region report participation levels of greater than 50%, whereas, in the national data, only 29% of companies report achieving this level of participation.

Learn More at the Silicon Valley NASPP Chapter All-Day Conference

If you are thinking that you've heard my whole presentation, so now you don't need to come to the chapter conference next Thursday, June 23--think again! This data represents only three slides in my panel's presentation, so we have lots more to "re-think" about ESPPs. (Spoiler alert: We still think ESPPs are a great idea.) There will be lots of other great panels throughout the day and you can't beat the price of admission--register by this Friday, June 17, for the early-bird rate. I hope to see you there.

Only Ten Days Left for NASPP Conference Early-Bird Rate
The 19th Annual NASPP Conference early-bird rate expires next Friday, June 24.  This deadline will not be extended--register for the Conference today, so you don't miss out.

NASPP "To Do" List
We have so much going on here at the NASPP that it can be hard to keep track of it all, so I keep an ongoing "to do" list for you here in my blog. 

- Barbara 

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