Choosing the right partner is important. Your dance teacher might be fantastic at samba but utterly terrible for doubles tennis. Your best friend could be great to go hillwalking with but the last person you’d select for a table quiz.
Why should it be any different when it comes to running your business? From the electricity supplier to the internet provider and everything in between, you’ll want to be sure each relationship is working just right. Sometimes you’ll need guidance, like with your stock plan management, and that’s when you talk to the experts.
Sinéad Redmond, Global Shares’ Technical Pre-Sales and RFP Manager, advises “whether setting up a scheme in the first place or transitioning from another provider you need an equity administrator who can handle that burden for you. It’s a complex issue so choosing the right provider that offers the stock plan services your company needs is key.”
Sorting your company’s stock plan management solution isn’t something you’ll fit in during the already scary downtime between answering e-mails and phone calls from your own customer base, so these are Sinéad’s top 5 suggestions to keep in mind when searching for a stock plan service provider.
1. The human element and a guiding hand there when you need it
“Never underestimate the importance of having a named support person who you can trust to offer assistance when needed,” Sinéad says. “Stock plan management is difficult. Sometimes you might need to be handheld. So you have a specific client relationship manager or your own equity plan management team? Having that dedicated support staff you can contact is a big deal.”
Whether it’s a fully managed solution, a bundling option or even a SaaS set-up you don’t want a piece of software with a faceless-mailbox at the other end.
The current trend for tech and financial service providers to remove that human factor is something both existing and prospective clients are pushing against in Sinéad’s recent experience.
“We see our competitors trying to move people away from having that personal support but we’re finding it’s actually really important,” Sinéad explains. “A large portion of the queries we’re getting from companies is about having that team available and on hand.”
2. Understand it’s okay to not fully know what you’re looking for. That’s why experts exist
Nobody wants to feel like they’re the only one in the room who doesn’t know what’s going on, but when it comes to equity compensation that’s often the case. And it’s okay, equity management and stock option management solutions are complicated. Remember the business of running your business is what you’re the expert in.
“Often with companies who’ve tried to manage their own stock plans, the data is wrong,” Sinéad says. “Maybe they’ve had people who didn’t know how to administer them or they’ve not had any expert support, but a single button solution is just not doable because you need a level of data auditing and expertise.”
Regardless of if you’re at the pre-seed stage, currently looking for venture capital investment or making your first steps starting out there is a specific solution that’s just right for you. Equity administration is about saving you time, taking that manual element off your hands and freeing you up to focus on the important business of growing your business.
“If we have the details and description of the problem, we can work on a solution for you,” Sinéad advises, noting that 47% of Global Shares staff hold a specific equity plan management qualification.
3. As your company grows will your stock plan service provider be able to continue to support you – even as you expand globally?
Needs change over time. That stroller you bought for your new born is perfect now but won’t be much use when they’re 17 and looking to borrow the car. It’s the same with your business.
“You’ll want to be sure that your stock plan service provider is as forward thinking as you are,” Sinead advises.
“At Global Shares we have 19 offices worldwide and over 600 corporate clients ranging from early-stage start-ups to mature multinational public corporations, and have a solution available to suit every stage in between. We can go from scratch with someone who’s never had a plan before or can manage a large scale migration from an existing stock plan provider.”
So if you already have a plan and are looking to move on from your current provider because it’s no longer the right fit, do your research and be sure a new service provider can handle that change.
“There’s a lot of data cleansing and analysis,” Sinead says. “You’ll need a solid implementation team with a strong history of migration experience.”
Bonus tip: Be sure that the platform you choose can support both public and private companies.
4. How is your data treated? Look at the level of privacy and security afforded to your data
Everything is connected so data security should be a major concern. No matter what industry you’re in you’ll want an equity compensation management plan partner you feel confident entrusting with your information.
“Data privacy, integrity and security are key. That goes for all the data held on behalf of customers, clients and participants,” Sinéad stresses. “At Global Shares we manage our own stock plan and employee ownerships through our own systems so we treat your data and information with the same care and respect that we treat our own.”
Sinéad also recommends checking for any history of data leaks or breaches. Ask your provider to confirm what encryption standards they employ for their storage and transfer. What data loss prevention and recovery strategies do they have in place?
5. What’s their ethos? Choose a company that you’re proud to do business with
You know that expression about how you can judge someone by their friendships? When it comes to your business relationships keep that in mind.
“Corporate social responsibility. Culture. Values, ” Sinéad states. “Don’t underestimate how much these mean to people. Your company and your staff are the most important thing to you and you want whoever is administering your equity plan management to be someone you can trust and believe in. The culture of the firm that you hire should be reflective of this.”
The days of farming services off to faceless corporations are gone and people want to interact with a company that they can be proud to work with.
Spend some time researching the company. Great Place to Work Awards (we are proud winners). Remote working policies or flexible working polices for parents and carers. These are all things that will give you an insight into who you’re partnering with.
Ultimately it’s about picking a team who you can trust and believe in.
So, whether you’re setting off on your equity management journey, already underway or even if you’re lost in the weeds somewhere give us a call.