In August 2022, 146 employees of industry intelligence firm GlobalData benefitted from an £82 million pay-out from its share option scheme, which was originally formed in 2010 and had remained open to entrants until December 2020.
In 2019 and 2021, GlobalData built on the success of its 2010 scheme, creating two more that are scheduled to vest between February 2025 and February 2027. These schemes are open to senior leadership and mid-level employees, with some more junior staff eligible due to length of service.
Graham Lilley, CFO of GlobalData, explains that while the firm is considering bringing in all-employee schemes, such as the Save as You Earn (SAYE) down the line, exclusivity helps to reward loyalty, a key element of the business’ success so far.
He says: “There’s definitely a loyalty element. We started as a relatively small business and we’ve grown quite rapidly, so a lot of people had to buy into that growth story early on. Also, we’ve brought new [businesses] in and have incentivised their people to stay around and be part of GlobalData through offering them shares, so there’s definitely a retention benefit.
“It also directly ties to what we’re trying to do for shareholders, so [employees] see the benefit that we’re delivering to shareholders, and then they can take a share in all that. It clearly aligns everyone toward the same goals.”
Where the 2010 scheme was arguably more high risk, high reward, as this was a younger growth business, the current GlobalData schemes perhaps have a more stable trajectory, although the organisation still has ambitious growth targets. At the moment, 75 people are vested, and Lilley expects many more to follow. He adds that plenty of people whose shares matured in 2022 kept hold of theirs, rather than cashing out.
The share schemes are not just available to GlobalData’s 1,000 UK employees, but staff across its 3,500-strong global workforce. With managers primarily benefitting, Lilley points to an environment of engagement and motivation that can cascade down throughout the business.
“It brings the team together,” he explains. “If only UK senior leadership people were involved, [we] would get some disengagement, but the fact that it does bring in all of the senior people and their reports from around the globe means that we can all go in the same direction and with the same motivation.
“If [we’ve] got a manager who lives and breathes and believes what they’re saying, it’s always more motivational than if they don’t and are just going through the motions.”