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September 17, 2014
With rising markets, the popularity of employee stock plans returns

Another sign that equity markets have rebounded from the 2008-09 market crash:  company stock option plans are popular again.

According to information released by Fidelity Investments, 86 per cent of respondents it surveyed under the age of 40 say they would want a company stock purchase plan if they changed jobs.  Another 40 per cent consider a stock plan a “must have” in any decision involving a change of employment.

With the tightening of labour markets, stock plans can be useful in attracting or retaining employees.

“The availability of a company stock plan can tip the scale in a company’s favour when employees are evaluating job opportunities, especially in industries that demand highly skilled or specialized workers,” says Fidelity Investment Executive Vice-President Kevin Barry.  

The Fidelity survey also indicated that 57 per cent of employees feel that equity-based compensation plans contribute to their feeling of loyalty to their employer.  Fifty-four per cent felt that stock plans “provide incentives to work harder and be rewarded for the company’s performance.”

Employee stock plans became popular employee benefits during the equity booms of the mid-1980s and late 1990s.  However, they quickly fell out of favour during crises such as the 1987, 2001 and 2008-09 market crashes, when the value of many stock plans shrank or disappeared.

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