Member Profile: Pat Sims of Pearson

Pat Sims is manager employee share plans and share registration at BT plc.

In what ways does employee share ownership serve a useful purpose?

On a participant level, via an employee share plans it provides easy access to wealth creation.  In low income countries it provides a way of accessing foreign currency.  For employers I hope share ownership improves engagement and loyalty, but will we ever know that for sure?

How can we widen and deepen the adoption and use of employee share ownership?

Outside the UK, the SAYE share plan approach does potentially many things, but increasing share ownership usually isn’t one of them.  So moving to a wider use of share purchase plans with regular purchases and some level of employer match is my current mantra.

What would you tell someone on the fence about introducing employee share ownership to their company?

Accept that to operate global share plans you need to invest in good people and systems.  Employees with shares do pay more attention to the share price and what the company is doing (can be a bumpy ride). Share plans are just as important as other benefits in attracting and retaining employees.

What do you think will change about employee share ownership over the next five years?

My crystal ball is saying in the UK not very much; I don’t see this as a government priority currently.  Internationally I think reporting requirements will continue to become more onerous and complex.

What has been the most important development in employee share ownership during your career?

In the UK the SIP, and understanding that employee share ownership doesn’t just mean the big listed companies, has really made employee share ownership accessible.  On a global basis, growth of technology – in terms of both system and electronic communication developments.

Which change to employee share plans legislation, in the UK or elsewhere, would you most like to see?

No rocket science answers here. In the UK simplifying the tax around exiting from SIPs.  Globally the acceptance that most all-employee share plans are a device to provide employees with shares, and not some dastardly attempt to undermine governments, fleece employees, or money launder.

Why do you think employee share ownership has enjoyed cross-party support in the UK?

Doesn’t every politician like a win-win situation?

Reduced “Proust”

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Any scenario that includes the words sunshine, a glass of barolo (or similar; I’m not too fussy), neck massage; and no, the children aren’t back yet.  Oh sorry, I meant to say working on the annual share plan filing for the Philippines.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I talk far too much; honestly you can’t shut me up.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Professionally I’ve been involved in a couple of big global share plan launches that have done well and won various awards, although sometimes I think just getting out of bed so I can work on that Philippines filing is my greatest achievement.  Personally passing my saxophone Grade 7 music exam whilst 6 months pregnant with my eldest son is hard to beat.

What historical figure do you most identify with?

Although she came to a very sticky end, I will go with Anne Boleyn.  I really admire her feistiness.  Maybe she wasn’t so good at the office politics, but I have always thought she was a person of principle, and remained loyal right to the very end.

Which living person do you most admire?

I admire anyone who stays true to their principles and convictions, but does it with humour, and a healthy disregard for authority.  So a frontrunner could be Dipsy from the Teletubbies, but I will go with the Beast of Bolsover – Dennis Skinner.  Some will say there is no difference between them of course.

Who are your heroes in real life?

I don’t really do heroes, but Colin Firth might count.  Great actor, activist, witty, bit of a rebel, and the best walk of any actor alive today.  And J K Rowling, for her sense of determination, strong convictions, and personal philanthropy.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse?

“I”, “me”, “tell me again why you haven’t done your homework”.

What is your most treasured possession?

Can I go for my memory foam pillow?  If that’s too shallow, my Mum’s wedding ring is special to me.

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