Service levels overall have remained flat from last year," said Kathy Huston, CEO of Group Five. "The biggest improvements in plan sponsor loyalty and satisfaction are in accounting and financial reporting services and commercial administration systems."
Plan participant education has replaced tax compliance as the biggest issue facing plan sponsors indicating that expectations for support with plan participant education have increased. Other key issues identified by study participants include accounting & financial reporting, adopting new ASC 718 standards, and managing award metrics.
Full Outsourced Services
Fidelity Investments, for the sixth year in a row, has the highest overall plan sponsor satisfaction for full administration services with a 96 percent favorable rating. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has the second highest rating at 92 percent favorable.
"At Fidelity, we are intensely focused on enhancing our systems and services to exceed the evolving needs of our clients and their employees around the globe," said Kevin Barry, executive vice president of Fidelity's Stock Plan Services. "To achieve a 96 percent overall satisfaction rating, the highest rating in the 18-year history of the Group Five study, demonstrates that our clients recognize the effects of our support, and we look forward to continuing to help them maximize the benefits of their equity compensation programs."
Lorna Sabbia, Head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said, "We are proud to once again be recognized by our clients as a top equity compensation services provider. We received top marks with respect to overall satisfaction, loyalty, and other factors that help our clients improve the effectiveness of their equity compensation plans as well as the financial lives of employees. The results are a reflection of our dedicated and talented team and the value they place on our clients, who motivate and inspire us every day to provide the highest level of service and support."
Partial Outsourced – Brokerage services
UBS has the highest overall satisfaction for partial outsourced brokerage services at 93 percent favorable. E*TRADE and Morgan Stanley follow at 91 and 89 percent favorable, respectively.
Michael Barry, Head of UBS Equity Plan Advisory Services, commented, "We're appreciative of our clients' participation and engagement in this year's survey and are pleased to again be rated #1 by our clients. To receive top ratings for the technology and service provided to both our corporate clients and their participants validates the strategic direction of our business, which includes delivering the right blend of advice, service, and technology."
Partial Outsourced – Commercial Systems
E*TRADE's Equity Edge Online continues to lead the industry for commercial systems used for in-house stock plan administration. Equity Edge Online has the highest overall satisfaction at 92 percent favorable.
"Earning number one in satisfaction and loyalty by the clients we serve for five years running is truly humbling," said Scott Whatley, SVP at E*TRADE Financial Corporate Services, Inc. "We understand deeply that benefit administrators are increasingly being asked to do more with less, which only makes the tools they select more important. We thank our clients for choosing us and will continue to focus on making Equity Edge Online the standard-bearer for the industry."
Accounting and Financial Reporting Services
Accounting and financial reporting services are becoming more critical to equity compensation administration. Equity Methods, once again, received the highest overall satisfaction rating with a score of 100 percent favorable. Morgan Stanley and Fidelity follow with 94 and 93 percent favorable, respectively.
"The entire team is excited that our clients have honored us with the highest satisfaction and loyalty ratings three years in a row," said Takis Makridis, President and CEO of Equity Methods. "While every client's needs are different, all our clients, large and small, want stock compensation reporting to be a center of excellence. We're committed to bringing a new level of insight and control to every element of stock compensation accounting—from financial reporting and the proxy to forecasting and tax optimization—to achieve our clients' goals. There's nothing more important to us than producing tangible results for our clients, so we find their positive affirmation very meaningful."
Founded in 1990, Group Five LLC is a corporate services research and consulting firm. Group Five is best known for its research in incentive compensation plan administration and shareholder services.
No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of Group Five.
Kathy Huston, 415.785.7983
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SOURCE Group Five