In 2013, the stock plan services team at UBS set out to better understand how employees engage with their equity awards. Through research conducted for the UBS Participant Voice, they identified trends that impact how much employees value their equity awards. It was 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 the awards more.

A few months before COVID-19 struck, UBS 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, UBS conducted 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. 

Here are the findings from the UBS online survey of 319 plan participants from May 11 – May 12, 2020. They indicate a need for financial advisors to provide stock plan participants with personalized guidance.

View the full reports for UBS’s participant studies.

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