When it comes to growing your business, there are a variety of strategies you can use. One strategy that is often overlooked is utilizing phantom stock agreements. These agreements can be a powerful tool for incentivizing key employees and helping your company expand.

Here’s a closer look at what phantom stock agreements are and how they can benefit your business.

What are phantom stock agreements?

Phantom stock agreements are a type of equity-based compensation plan that provides employees with benefits similar to those of actual stock ownership, without actually giving them any shares of stock. Instead, employees receive a type of “phantom” stock that tracks the value of the company's actual stock. When the company's stock price increases, the value of the phantom stock increases as well, and employees can then receive cash payments or other rewards based on that value.

Phantom stock agreements are typically designed to be long-term incentives, meaning that employees receive the benefits of the agreement only after they have worked for the company for a certain period of time. This helps to ensure that employees are committed to the company and its success over the long term.

How can phantom stock agreements benefit your business?

Phantom stock agreements can provide significant advantages to businesses, including the following:

  • Attracting and retaining top talent: Offering phantom stock agreements can be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top talent. Employees who are offered this type of incentive plan are likely to see it as a sign that the company is invested in their long-term success and is willing to reward them for their contributions over time.
  • Increasing employee motivation: Phantom stock agreements can also be highly motivating for employees, as they have a direct financial stake in the success of the company. This can help to increase productivity, foster a sense of teamwork, and encourage employees to work harder and smarter.
  • Aligning employee and company goals: By tying employee compensation to the value of the company's stock, phantom stock agreements can help to align employee and company goals. This means that employees are more likely to be focused on achieving the company's overall objectives, rather than simply pursuing their own personal interests.
  • Avoiding dilution of ownership: Unlike traditional equity-based compensation plans, phantom stock agreements do not dilute the ownership of existing shareholders. This means that you can offer employees equity-based incentives without having to give up any actual company ownership.
  • Providing tax advantages: Phantom stock agreements can also offer tax advantages for both the company and employees. Because the plan does not involve actual stock ownership, there are no tax consequences for the company when the phantom stock is granted. Additionally, employees are only taxed when they receive cash payments or other rewards based on the value of their phantom stock rather than when the stock increases in value.

How can you implement a phantom stock agreement?

Implementing a phantom stock agreement can be a complex process, and it's important to work with a knowledgeable attorney or financial advisor to ensure that you do it correctly.

Here are some key steps you may need to take:

  • Develop a plan document: This document should outline the details of the phantom stock agreement, including the eligibility requirements, the vesting schedule, and the method for determining the value of the phantom stock.
  • Communicate the plan to employees: It's important to clearly communicate the details of the phantom stock agreement to employees so they understand how it works and what benefits they can expect to receive.
  • Monitor the plan: Once the plan is in place, it's important to monitor it on an ongoing basis to ensure that it is achieving its intended goals.

Phantom stock agreements can be a powerful tool for incentivizing key employees. If you would like to discuss how utilizing phantom stock agreements can be a beneficial growth strategy for your business, please contact Thomas Yankanich at Email.

Thomas Yankanich is a director with Kreischer Miller and a specialist for the Center for Private Company Excellence. Contact him at Email or 215.441.4600.    



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