Majority of ESOP Sponsors Offer another Retirement Plan

Approximately 90% of ESOP Association members surveyed reported having retirement savings plans in addition to the ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) including 401(k) plans, pension plans, stock purchase plans, and stock options. 

The survey by the ESOP Association and the Employee Ownership Foundation found 23% of respondents said the ESOP was created to provide an additional employee benefit, and another 21% stated the attraction of the employee ownership concept as the reason. Eighty-four percent of respondents agreed that the ESOP improved motivation and productivity.   

The survey also found 78% of companies advertise the fact that they are employee owned through Web sites, in company literature, and in marketing campaigns, according to a press release.  

In 2010, the average age of the ESOP was reported to be 15 years as opposed to prior surveys in which the ESOPs reporting were much younger.  In addition, the average account balance has risen dramatically to $195,222.65.  

The top reason for establishing an ESOP has not changed over the last decade, with 50% of the respondents reporting that their ESOPs were created as part of an exit strategy, or a buyout from current owners.   

The figure for the amount of stock held by the ESOP has increased dramatically to 78% in 2010, up 10% over the 2005 survey data, and up 12% compared to the 2000 data.  The number of currently leveraged ESOPs has decreased with 52% of companies reporting that they are not currently leveraged and have paid off ESOP debt.  This reflects the increasing age of the ESOP as most ESOP loans are a 7-12 year term, the press release said.   

The survey is conducted every five years and 460 members participated in 2010. A publication detailing all 45 questions and responses will be available for purchase by members and non-members in the fall of 2010.