Why ownership definitely matters – ProShare Conference 2018

10 October 2018

Lauren Read

2018’s eagerly anticipated ProShare Conference kicked off last Wednesday at yet another impeccably chosen venue by Gabbi and the ProShare Conference team.

With a full day of speaker slots, networking opportunities and industry updates ahead of us, the entire Stitch team were ready to enjoy the day.

This years’ ProShare Conference topic was ‘Ownership Matters’ and for the first time we secured not one but three speaker slots.

Amy spoke with Caroline Wong from Rio Tinto about the benefits of using animation to demystify executive remuneration. The session ignited several conversations with other speakers and highlighted the value of setting aside a creative budget to communicate beyond all-employee plans.

Speaking with Aviva’s Karen Morley, Lauren discussed two recent UK all-employee communication projects. In addition to showcasing the creative campaign that Stitch produced for employees, the pair explained the value of communications in helping employees understand share ownership. With standing room only (!), the session was a popular one with conference delegates.

Straying beyond the realm of share plans for 35 minutes, Sophie and Charlotte spoke with Chris Bracebridge from Covington & Burling about the first year of gender pay gap reporting. The session was divided into two parts – focusing first on the learnings from the first round of reports (with share plans in mind) and secondly looking at communication best practice.

If you’d like to see any of our slides from the day – get in touch.

Here are some highlights of the day from the Stitch team:

Emma said: “As always, I was delighted to see the prominent role communications played in the conference this year, from the keynote speaker and the morning panel, and throughout all the breakout sessions I went to. In his session on surviving two corporate actions in 18 months, Tom Blake from Laird recommended companies invest 50% of their time and effort explaining what’s happening to employees, to keep them on side and ensure a successful conclusion. He also said “don’t just do what you normally do”, a sentiment we wholeheartedly endorse.

Charlotte said: “The shift in mentality around the importance of communications was so apparent at this year’s conference. I had so many interesting conversations with industry friends old and new about communications budget now being a necessity rather than an optional flourish. On a completely different note, Stephen and Gillian from Baker McKenzie did a great job weaving in some Rainbow references in their session on employment law developments – well played”.

Jess said: “As an avid reader it was interesting to learn that co-founder of Skyscanner Gareth Williams loves books. So much so that after three months working for the company, all employees at Skyscanner are given a Kindle to encourage their continued learning. What a great idea! Maybe that’s their inspiration for achieving an 84% take up on their SIP”.

Lauren said: “In one of the final sessions of the day with Jeremy Mindell, it was interesting to learn how company rewards and benefit schemes can make it into the press in a big way. One particular story that captured my attention is that of the Persimmon Homes LTIP scandal. When Persimmon Homes designed their LTIP in 2012, they failed to build in an upper limit rewards cap. This resulted in the company’s three top executives being paid a combined £104m in 2017. Subsequently, the final pay-out was cut due to pressure from politicians and other company shareholders. Persimmon’s chief executive issued a very humbled response to the gigantic windfall, commenting “I’ll take the full whack, thanks, and, though I may give some to charity, that’s nobody’s business but my own”.

Jane said: “The ‘Are women better investors?’ session with Clare Francis and Clare Garrett from Barclays was a really fascinating (but scary) insight into the statistics from ProShare’s SAYE and SIP report. It showed that although women are more likely to handle day to day household finances, they defer to men to plan longer term savings and investments. It will be interesting to see how the industry responds to this valuable insight, could investing in communications to boost financial understanding and education be the answer?”.

Sophie said: “Several recurring topics featured throughout the day, which gave the impression of a really united group of professionals. It’s nice to know that we’re part of an industry that’s really aligned in both current thought and future outlook. Thinking about communications in particular, I was surprised at the amount of airtime it received – it’s great to hear”.

Amy said: “Rosemary’s session about Hays offered a personal insight into the impact of financial benefits on employees. I really enjoyed the videos of employees who had benefitted from short term loans, it’s always nice to hear the stories behind the statistics. Another highlight was learning how to say “I love you sugar lips” in Norwegian (jeg elsker deg sukker lepper)….As always the conference provided us with lots of thought provoking content and conversation. Next stop is the ProShare Annual Awards where we look forward to celebrating with the next round of industry winners”.

If you saw one of our sessions and would like to chat, or just didn’t find the time to talk with one of the Stitch team on the day, feel free to get in touch.