Mike Pewton , executive director of Solium Global Compliance
In what ways does employee share ownership serve a useful purpose?
The main aim of employee share ownership at an all employee level is to bring employees together behind the company. Giving them more of a sense of identity with their company while allowing them to share in any success of the company.
How can we widen and deepen the adoption and use of employee share ownership?
I always like to see a link between executive plans and all employee plans wherever possible. Some countries like France and Australia link tax benefits in plans to all employee participation and I think this is a great way forward. Increased knowledge of plans and shares in general and, more work on communications is essential if we are to widen employee understanding and inevitably participation.
What would you tell someone on the fence about introducing employee share ownership to their company?
It needs to be thought out in terms of objectives and communications strategy, and nothing should be taken for granted. Understanding is almost certainly (particularly on a global level) at a lower level than we would generally think so communication and simplicity is key.
What do you think will change about employee share ownership over the next five years?
I think we will continue to expand broader ownership and companies will move toward a more simplistic model for global share plans. As regulation increases (and we are already seeing this in tax and data privacy) companies will need to be more in control of how plans are being run and rolled out and will need more support. Simplifying how these plans are run will be essential to ensure that companies and advisors can keep pace with changes to regulations.
What has been the most important development in employee share ownership during your career?
The increase in global plans and the increased regulations around these. Again, in terms of international tax and mobility (and the audits around it) and securities and exchange controls. Fortunately, the advisor industry has also adapted to these changes with technology making these services more transparent and affordable, allowing advisors to facilitate compliance in a cost and time effective manner.
Which change to employee share plans legislation, in the UK or elsewhere, would you most like to see?
Greater EU harmonisation of regulatory background is helpful and the changes in the EUPD will hopefully continue this trend. Harmonisation of tax in the EU would also simplify life for global companies.
Why do you think employee share ownership has enjoyed cross-party support in the UK?
It’s clearly a positive for all, companies, employees, HMRC and a move towards enriching employees and their relationship at work. All politicians should (and do) broadly support these themes.
Which aspect of the Esop Centre do you most value?
Community allowing professionals to get together and discuss important issues and ideas on share plans.
Which aspect of the Esop Centre would you most like to change?
I think the Esop Centre could look to broaden and advertise its membership base to take up a larger role with and share of UK and/or global companies.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
If it exists it would involve high achievement, a sporting endeavour and a perfect cup of tea.
What is your most marked characteristic?
A desire for change and belief that this is possible through technology.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Setting up an advisory service for legal and tax services based on the use of technology in a traditional (and at times conservative) profession.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
Which living person do you most admire?
Who are your heroes in real life?
Mostly footballers. Overpaid yes, but a profession that depends on performing at the highest level in the public eye everyday with no allowance for background or reputation.
Mohamed Ali, Steve Jobs.
Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
Nothing is impossible, if we could put a man on the moon…
What is your most treasured possession?
I’m not big on possessions… Currently it’s my bike