The Executive Compensation Balancing Act

Investing & Retirement

As a successful corporate executive, you’ve spent the better part of your career helping manage and grow the business on behalf of shareholders and employees—often with little time left over to focus on managing your own personal wealth. Much of your wealth may also be tied up in company stock which creates extra investment risk and can require considerable time and planning to unwind.

It’s time to look across your entire financial picture; including all your corporate benefits such as employer-sponsored retirement plans, deferred compensation packages, and insurance coverage to protect your assets, manage risk, and make informed decisions about:

  • How much compensation should you defer?
  • How can you begin to divest company stock given contractual restrictions?
  • Are there strategies that will allow you to lock-in the value of your underlying shares?
  • How do you plan for the orderly distribution of retirement assets to minimize taxes?
  • How can you best use company-sponsored retirement plans to maximize the benefit to you and your family now and in the future?

Controlling risk when you can’t diversify

For many corporate executives, diversifying a concentrated stock position—even though it could help reduce investment risk—may not be a viable strategy. Corporate insiders and those who acquired securities in a transaction that didn’t involve a public offering are often subject to constraints regarding the sale of those securities deemed “restricted” or “controlled.” The sale of a highly appreciated stock holding might also trigger a large tax liability that you’d rather postpone as long as possible.

Given those concerns, how can you de-risk your portfolio?

One potential strategy is the use of an exchange fund,Disclosure 1 which allows a qualified investor to exchange a concentrated position for a more broadly diversified portfolio of stocks without incurring an immediate tax liability. If you have philanthropic goals, you might want to consider a charitable remainder trust as a way to use your appreciated stock to help achieve those goals, while generating an annual income stream and providing an immediate income tax deduction.

In many cases, however, a staged sale can be achieved using a 10b5-1 trading plan. Because these plans establish a pre-determined trading schedule that specifies exactly how many share of stock will be sold and when, and execute those sales automatically, they satisfy most regulatory requirements and avoid insider trading concerns. 

Staying focused on the big picture

Most importantly, don’t make decisions about your concentrated stock in a vacuum. They should be part of a broader holistic assessment of your personal balance sheet—one that looks at all your various sources of income including your investments, deferred compensation, executive benefits, retirement/pension plan and Social Security, as well as your essential and discretionary expenses.

This approach will allow you and your Truist Wealth advisor to maximize corporate benefit and compensation plans, integrate them with your investment, retirement, tax, estate planning, and risk protection needs, and along the way identify any issues, concerns, or challenges you need to address.

Interested in learning more about de-risking a concentrated stock position?

Talk to your Truist Wealth advisor.

Comments regarding tax implications are informational only. Truist and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your individual tax or legal professional before taking any action that may have tax or legal consequences.

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