In the know

UBS Participant Voice: Where to find out what's important to your participants

Critical advice

(UBS Participant Voice, Issue 4—supplement to Unlocking value)

In 2013, we set out to better understand how employees across service providers and industries engage with their equity awards. Through our UBS Participant Voice research, we've identified many trends that impact how much employees value their equity awards. In that time, we discovered that employees do not value what they don’t understand, and that when they include equity awards in their overall financial plan, they appreciate awards more.

A few months before COVID-19 struck, we conducted the study again to measure how employees' attitudes toward equity awards have changed over the years. The UBS Participant Voice: Unlocking value report showed an increase in the percentage of employees who highly valued their equity awards (42% vs. 26% in 2013), yet one in three still saw minimal value in them. The study also found that employees who receive personalized advice and education value their awards more. Though, more than half of employees say they receive neither.

With employees in the midst of market uncertainty due to COVID-19, we decided to conduct a follow-up study to see how the perceived value of their equity awards has changed. While COVID-19 is having an impact on employees’ attitudes, it is relatively minor. The biggest impact on personal finances from the pandemic is the increased importance of financial advice across all demographics. (When equity plan participants establish a full-service relationship with a UBS Financial Advisor, they are eligible to receive personalized advice.)

Previous studies

The UBS Equity Award Value Index

A groundbreaking tool for measuring how participants value equity awards.

Vesting experience clearly matters. 

  • > 6 vestings. Participants view equity awards as one way to build wealth. They understand the potential of their awards.
  • 3-5 vestings. Participants view equity awards as a paycheck supplement. They aren’t sure how to  maximize the potential of awards.
  • < 3 vestings. Participants view equity awards as a lottery ticket. They don’t perceive their equity  awards as having long-term value.

“Show me the value”

Three steps to help employees get the most from their equity plan.

Here are three critical steps that can help: 

  1. Drive a strong culture that reinforces the company’s growth potential
  2. Ensure your plan is straightforward so it’s easy for employees to participate
  3. Deliver education and personalized advice that helps participants see equity awards as part of their broader financial picture

The multiplier effect

Doubling how much participants appreciate equity awards

When participants follow these three steps, they value their awards twice as much. 

  • Incorporate equity awards into their broader financial picture
  • Seek advice on company stock holdings
  • Diversify company stock holdings