Morgan Stanley at Work Unveils Findings From Annual Stock Plan Participant Survey

Morgan Stanley at Work released the findings from its annual Stock Plan Participant Survey. Building off the organization’s recent State of the Workplace Financial Benefits Report, the participant study takes a deep dive into the participant experience, exploring the value and benefits of stock plans, how participants leverage their stock plans benefits and how they are a driving factor in employee retention. Among the notable findings from the study:

“A core part of my compensation, like my salary”

  • Nearly three out of five (58%) participants view equity compensation as a reason they have stayed with their current employer. Further, around two out of five (41%) participants note their equity awards are a reason they joined their current employer.
  • Yet equity compensation is thought of more as extra pay than as a core part of their financials. Slightly more participants view equity compensation as “extra pay I don’t count on” (44%) than believe it is “A core part of my compensation, like my salary” (39%).
  • Participant perception of stock plans is positive. In fact, 69% agree that stock plan benefits are a way for their company to recognize their contributions.
  • Tax implications continue to confound. Nearly two out of three (66%) aren’t confident that they understand how taxes may affect their stock plan benefits.
  • Most participants are also not very confident in how to maximize the financial benefit of their equity awards. Only one out of three participants (33%) are very or extremely confident they know how to maximize the financial benefit of stock plan benefits.
  • Few seem to be choosing to keep the equity as is or use the proceeds as cash. Two out of five have not sold their vested shares, while nearly one out of three deposited the proceeds into a checking or savings account. Only 17% used the proceeds to invest in the market through a brokerage account.

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“The research underlines the important role equity compensation continues to play when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent,” said Kate Winget, Managing Director and Head of Corporate and Participant Engagement for Morgan Stanley at Work. “That said, while equity compensation is clearly a powerful motivator, there is more work to do to ensure participants have the knowledge and resources they need to make the most out of this benefit. Equity compensation can play a critical role in helping employees save and prepare for their future—education plays a crucial role in helping move the needle in that direction.”

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