Investor's wiki

Stock Compensation

Stock Compensation

What Is Stock Compensation?

Stock compensation is a way corporations use stock options to reward employees. Employees with stock options need to know whether their stock is vested and will hold its full value even assuming they are not generally employed with that company. Since tax outcomes rely upon the fair market value (FMV) of the stock, assuming that the stock is subject to tax withholding, the tax must be paid in cash, even assuming the employee was paid by equity compensation.

How Stock Compensation Works

Stock compensation is frequently utilized by startup companies since they ordinarily don't have the cash close by to pay employees competitive rates. Executives and staff might share in the company's growth and profits that way. Notwithstanding, numerous laws and compliance issues must be complied to, for example, fiduciary duty, tax treatment and deductibility, registration issues and expense charges.

While vesting, companies let employees purchase a predetermined number of shares at a set price. Companies might vest on a specific date or on a month to month, quarterly, or annual schedule. The timing might be set by far reaching or individual performance targets being met, or both time and performance criteria. Vesting periods are in many cases three to four years, regularly beginning after the primary anniversary of the date an employee became eligible for stock compensation. In the wake of being vested, the employee may exercise their stock-buying option any time before the expiration date.

Illustration of Stock Compensation

For instance, accept that an employee is given the right to purchase 2,000 shares of stock at $20 per share. The options vest 30% each year north of three years and have a term of five years. The employee pays $20 per share while buying the stock, no matter what the stock price, over the five-year period.

Types of Stock Compensation

There are various types of stock compensation, for example, non-qualified stock options (NSOs) and incentive stock options (ISOs). ISOs are simply accessible to employees and not non-employee directors or advisors. These options give special tax benefits. With non-qualified stock options, employees are required to pay income tax in light of the grant price minus the price of the exercised option.

Stock appreciation rights (SARs) let the value of a predetermined number of shares be paid in cash or shares. Phantom stock pays a cash bonus sometime in the future rising to the value of a set number of shares. Employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs) let employees buy company shares at a discount.

Restricted Stock

Restricted stock and restricted stock units (RSUs) let employees receive shares through purchase or gift in the wake of working a set number of years and meeting performance objectives. Restricted stock requires the completion of a vesting period. This might be done at the same time after a certain period of time. Then again, vesting might be done similarly over a set period of years or some other combination management sees as suitable.

RSUs are comparable, yet they address the company's guarantee to pay shares in view of a vesting schedule. This offers a few benefits to the company, however employees gain no rights of stock possession — like voting rights — until the shares are earned and issued.

Performance Shares

Companies award performance shares to executives and managers provided that certain predefined measures are met. These could incorporate metrics, for example, a earnings for each share (EPS) target, return on equity (ROE), or the total return of the company's stock comparable to an index. Commonly, performance periods are over a long term time horizon.

Practicing Stock Options

Stock options might be exercised by paying cash, trading shares previously owned, working with a stockbroker on a same-day sale, or executing a sell-to-cover transaction. Be that as it may, a company regularly permits only a couple of those methods. For instance, private companies commonly confine the sale of acquired shares until the company goes public or is sold. Furthermore, private companies don't offer to-cover or same-day sales.


  • Two types of stock compensation are non-qualified stock options (NSOs) and incentive stock options (ISOs).
  • Vesting periods are much of the time three to four years, commonly beginning after the principal anniversary of the date an employee became eligible for stock compensation.
  • Stock compensation is many times subject to a vesting period before it tends to be collected and sold by an employee.
  • A few companies award performance shares to managers and executives on the off chance that certain performance metrics are met, for example, earnings per share (EPS) or return on equity (ROE).
  • Stock compensation is a way corporations utilize stock or stock options to reward employees in lieu of cash.