What Are Employee Stock Options And Why Should I Care?

Kelly Trageser |

As a young person in the industry, you might not care about your employee stock options, but for those who pay attention, the benefits are enormous. In this article we are going to look at two things; first, what exactly are employee stock options and second, why you should care and take advantage of these company benefits.

What are stock options?

Employee stock options are simply an opportunity for employees of a particular company to buy stocks in the company at a preferred price. This preferred price is fixed and is often referred to as the strike price or grant price of a stock. These stocks typically have a vesting period to help with employee retention and some also have an expiry date.  

Stock options have been around for years and were utilized by larger companies to retain employees and help them buy into the company. However, in the last couple of years stock options have become an excellent tool for start-ups to attract top talent. Instead of a high salary, the company can offer an excellent price on stocks for upper management and key positions. 

Why you should care about employee stock options?

Employee stock options are not offered by every company, and for those who have the opportunity, it is undoubtedly an attractive benefit. Here are three reasons why:

  • Preferred Pricing

    • For those who have employee stock options, you will notice that the listing price of your stock is quite a bit higher than the preferred pricing that you have been offered by your company. Although the difference can be considered taxable income in certain areas, the benefits can be immense. This is especially true if you are working with a company whose stock is on the rise. However, there is the risk that your share may drop, or even become worthless, depending on how the company performs. Like all investments, it is best to chat with a financial advisor before making any big decisions. 

  • Diversify Your Investments

    • When you are looking to invest, it is always important to diversify your portfolio. Employee stock options offer an attractive way to be able to buy stocks starting early in your career. 

  • Automatic Savings Through Payroll Deductions

    • Many larger companies make employee stock options available through payroll deductions. This makes investing a simple process and ensures that you stay on track with your savings goals.

Employee stock options are a great benefit of working in private industry.  They are an attractive and straightforward investment opportunity, especially as a passive investing tool. However, employee stock options may have tax implications, so be sure to chat with a financial advisor before making any big decisions with your money, especially with employee stock options.

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