7 Tips to Improve Equity Administration on the Road to an IPO

May 9, 2018 Shareworks Marketing

Whether you just hired your first engineer, raised your Series B, became cash-flow positive or are preparing for that exciting exit event, one thing is certain: equity administration is complex, regardless of your business stage.

At Shareworks by Morgan Stanley, we understand the IPO process can be daunting. You may be asking yourself, “How do I best support my organization from an equity administration perspective during this time? To help you along, we’ve put together a list of strategies you can leverage to make equity administration simple, connected and streamlined as your company continues down its path of growth.   

Building a toolkit for better equity administration

The journey to IPO and beyond is a complex, multi-step process and graduating from one phase to the next takes planning, expertise and the right equity administration software. Here are seven tips  to improve equity administration, help unify all of your plans, and drive collaboration across your business.  

  1. Hire the right global equity operator

No matter what stage your business is in, having the right executive talent on board to steer the ship is critical. But while many companies invest extensive time and effort in finding a great CFO, many fail to commit the same resources to hiring the right global equity operator. In our opinion, this is a great oversight. 

When an IPO or other major event is imminent, your employees will most likely be excited to finally liquidate some of their equity and it can be beneficial to dedicate someone to focus specifically on this part of your business. This position is typically referred to as the Stock Administrator, but the role is better represented by an equity operation individual. Since equity plans affect your legal, finance and HR groups, the equity operator should be a strategic thinker who can work across these departments–and they should be hired when your company hits between 250 and 500 employees.

  1. Integrate your systems

With a cloud-based equity administration system, you can better support your changing needs as your company continues to grow. A comprehensive solution like Shareworks empowers your busines with tools to integrate the traditionally disparate aspects of equity administration. By linking your systems together, you can simplify, centralize and bring efficiency to equity administration tasks and processes.


  1. Automate and Unify HRIS and payroll:

HRIS and payroll tools maintain tax and demographic info, current addresses, department information and job statuses – and in the pre-IPO phase, the integrity of this data is vital. A good equity administration system will automate data feed from tools like ADP, Workday, Ultipro and others to minimize errors and create efficiencies.


  1. Take advantage of Single-sign on (SSO):

Making things as easy as possible for employees is important. Your equity administration tool should be accessible to your participants through your Google Apps, Okta or OneLogin portals. SSO reduces friction by decreasing password fatigue, simplifying username and password management, and increasing speed where it counts.

  1. Connect internal and external communications:  

The right equity administration system should integrate with your communication strategies so you can share financial advice, plan information and details about plan-related events in a deliberate and effective manner.

  1. Leverage total compensation tools:

Post-IPO, some employees will invariably watch the stock price and think about joining that next hot start-up. To overcome these retention challenges, a robust equity administration system allows your company to issue a total compensation statement that accurately shows employees the value of their equity holdings, giving them transparency into why they would want to stay put.

  1. Evaluate your compensation program:

To ensure your equity compensation program is competitive, an enterprise equity administration system allows you to compare your existing equity guidelines to the broader market. For example, with Shareworks Compensation, companies can complete their employee compensation strategy whether they are at seed stage or ready for IPO.

Get in touch

As you explore the breadth and depth of equity administration as a rapidly growing company, it’s normal to feel a little intimidated. That’s where the right guidance and support comes into play. Speak to one of our equity administration professionals to learn more.


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THIS INFORMATION IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE. You should always consult with and rely on your own legal and/or tax advisor(s) as Shareworks does not provide legal or tax advice and the information is not tailored to the specific situations of your company or your employees. Shareworks by Morgan Stanley services are provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, member SIPC, and its affiliates, all wholly owned subsidiaries of Morgan Stanley. CRC 3197558-08/20