BOSTON — As organizations continue to use company stock awards as a way to attract and retain top performing employees, Fidelity Investments® today released the Fidelity Equity Compensation Planner, a new interactive solution designed to help employees better understand their stock awards and more easily integrate these stock awards into their overall financial plans.
Equity compensation awards can be complex and many employees do not always understand the differences between the various types of company stock awards, such as restricted stock, stock options and performance share awards. They also may be unsure of how to manage these equity awards within an overall wealth management plan. In addition, employees may not be aware of the tax implications of different award types, which could have a negative impact on the overall value of the awards.
"While employers recognize equity compensation awards are a great way to reward employees and attract and retain top talent, we find many employees don't fully understand the awards they are receiving," said Mark Haggerty, head of Stock Plan Services at Fidelity Investments. "The Fidelity Equity Compensation Planner is designed to help individuals better understand the value of the company stock they receive from an employer, which can help maximize the role of equity compensation within their overall wealth management plan."
Fidelity's Equity Compensation Planner is an interactive solution uniquely designed to help employees understand the different types of company stock awards they currently own, the percentage of each type of stock within their portfolio, as well as suggest various ways an employee can manage company stock alongside other investments. Designed to be used in conjunction with a Fidelity representative, each session is designed to help individuals with their specific needs and equity holdings.
In addition to providing a clear view of current company stock, the Equity Compensation Planner includes modeling capabilities that help employees understand how the value of their equity awards could be impacted based on when shares are scheduled to vest, as well changes to the company's stock price. This detailed information, when coupled with investment guidance from a Fidelity financial associate, can help employees make the best decisions when it comes to managing their equity compensation awards.
Fidelity's Equity Compensation Planner includes several innovative features that are unique to the equity compensation market, including:
- Concentration breakdown of company stock. Although for many years, stock options were one of the most popular forms of equity compensation, companies are now granting equity awards in the form of options, restricted stock and performance awards. The concentration breakdown feature graphically displays the percentage of company stock within an individual's overall investment portfolio, individually listing each award type and shares of company stock an individual owns. The breakdown also provides a total value for each category of stock based on current company stock price.
- Stock vesting schedules. Once the shares vest, the employee officially owns them and can apply them to their overall financial strategy. However, vesting schedules can sometimes be complex. This feature helps individuals understand the vesting schedule and how many vested and unvested shares are contained in the portfolio.
- Impact of company stock price. Fluctuations in a company's stock price will have an impact on the value of an individual's equity award. This feature provides an analysis of the impact of changes in a company's stock price—up or down—will have on the value of an individual's shares, both owned and ones vesting in the future.
- Stock options analysis. The value of options depends on several factors—the current price of the company's stock, the price at which an employee can purchase the stock, vesting schedules, and expiration dates. This feature helps individuals make decisions about when to exercise their options, which options to exercise, and how various exercising strategies could impact the value of shares.
- Tax liability vs. risk. Understanding tax implications is an important part of managing equity compensation awards. For example, if a stock price falls, an individual could end up losing more in market value than they would have paid in taxes had they exercised their stock grant. The Equity Compensation Planner outlines possible tax liabilities and scenarios to help individuals make decisions about managing their equity awards.
"Equity compensation awards can play an important role in achieving financial goals—if individuals understand and manage them effectively," continued Haggerty. "Our Equity Compensation Planner is one of the only solutions in the market today providing a comprehensive view and detailed analysis to help individuals make the best decisions about their equity awards, in a simplified, highly-visual manner that is clear and easy to understand."
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity's mission is to inspire better futures and deliver better outcomes for the customers and businesses we serve. With assets under administration of $7 trillion, including managed assets of $2.5 trillion as of January 31, 2018, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping more than 26 million people invest their own life savings, 23,000 businesses manage employee benefit programs, as well as providing more than 12,500 financial advisory firms with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients' money. Privately held for 70 years, Fidelity employs more than 40,000 associates who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit https://www.fidelity.com/about.