September 1, 2021

Get the Most Out of the Fall ESOP Forum

Executive Director

You can get a big picture overview of all things related to making an ESOP company work well at the Fall ESOP Forum, but most people I talk with have one aspect of ESOPs at the top of mind. We structured the Fall Forum with four tracks so you can be confident that you can focus on building your knowledge and getting ideas you can implement. Get our Fall Forum curriculum guide (PDF) to help choose the best sessions to attend based on your areas of interest or job focus. See the Fall Forum program for a searchable list of sessions and speakers; you also can filter by track. If you haven't registered yet, be sure to register now.

Governance and Fiduciary Issues

This track has sessions designed to ensure that you have the essential background about issues unique to ESOPs. Whether you are on a board of directors, an ESOP trustee, or serving on an administration committee, there is something for you. Several of the sessions focus on the most important governance decisions, from the valuation process to meeting federal requirements to executive compensation. However, the sessions also go beyond that, offering you a chance to explore emerging best governance practices, from effectively adding independent directors to your board to strategic planning to expanding your ESOP to cover non-U.S. employees. The 18 sessions in this track range from practical ideas on fulfilling your fiduciary duties to the anti-abuse rules under Section 409(p) to “how to avoid a disastrous board meeting.”

People Management and Ownership Culture

One reason people keep coming back to NCEO events is the generosity with which speakers share their challenges and the solutions they have tried. Employee ownership companies have incredible potential to learn from each other, and this track is all about the communication and engagement that unlocks the power of employee ownership. It starts from the beginning, with a session on using employee ownership to improve the recruiting process, and another session covers communication across the entire employment cycle. You’ll get an overview of communications and training ideas, ranging from the basics of how ESOPs work to business literacy. You’ll also leave with practical ideas for communicating during difficult and chaotic times, as well as how to celebrate: we’ll have a whole session and a series of roundtables on Employee Ownership Month.

ESOP Sustainability

Many of our member companies want to remain independent and employee-owned indefinitely, a goal we support. This track will give you the conceptual framework and tools to make that possible. Much of the focus on sustainability is about projecting and proactively managing the ESOP repurchase obligation; several sessions in the track will take you from the basics to all you need, covering both understanding the drivers of repurchase and how to project it. Sessions will dig into the specific levers available to companies in their approach to distributions. We will also focus on oft-overlooked sustainability issues, including cash management, tips for risk management of health benefits through the NCEO’s captive insurance program, and ways boards and chief executives can work together to ensure the company’s sustainability.

ESOP Operations 

No one needs to tell you that ESOPs have many moving parts, and legislative changes—both recently passed and potentially forthcoming—mean the pace of change won’t be slowing. Making sure your ESOP is operating the way it should means making sure you have a complete overview of all aspects of ESOP operations. This track can not only give you the highest-level overview (ESOPs A to V—Administration to Valuation) but also help you dig in on some of the specific issues your company may be thinking about, like making sure your ESOP and 401(k) plan are working together or increasing your company’s security against a possible cyber attack.

Bring the Best of the Forum Back to Your Company

These four tracks can help you decide which people from your company would most benefit from the Fall ESOP Forum, but attendees tell us that they get some of the greatest benefit by attending some sessions outside their “home” track. CFOs can get a fresh perspective from the management and culture sessions. Communication committee members might better understand how to create a communication plan by hearing from a speaker talking about the governance decision-making process.

Whatever your ESOP goals are, the expertise and generous transparency of the speakers and other attendees at the Fall ESOP Forum can help you achieve them.