Mike Smith

Mike Smith is head of corporate executive and employee trading at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management.

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

Employee share ownership is a very valuable tool for managers to ensure all employees are aligned with shareholders, knowing that by executing their role to the best of their ability, they’ll contribute to the overall success of the firm. It’s quite simply a win win scenario by rewarding employee loyalty and hard work with all stakeholders.

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

At a Centre level, I think it’s important to keep up the good work of lobbying the government to promote employee ownership. From within a company itself, it comes down to running clear and concise workshops that explain the benefits of share ownership to all employees.

Real life case studies can help to drive the message throughout the organisation.

Lastly, whether it be a Share Incentive Plan (SIP) or Save As You Earn (SAYE) scheme, the company should seek to make the terms as generous as possible within the boundaries of the scheme rules.

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

Take a leap of faith! Or speak to colleagues or contacts at other firms to see how successful they found employee schemes worked.

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

I think we’ll continue to see people elect to use SIPs as opposed to SAYE schemes as interest rates don’t look like they’ll be going higher anytime soon and therefore a matching scheme is likely to prove more popular. In particular, where a generous employer fully matches the employees’ commitment to the scheme.

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

I would say we have moved away from just having senior executive share plans to more broad based all employee schemes that (apart from alignment) have encouraged people to use them as a savings tool.

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

Probably this would be a means of simplifying ownership for employees that are based outside of the jurisdiction to which their employer is listed. If employees feel there is too much form filling (W8-BEN for example) or costs (dealing / custody / settlement) then they might liquidate at the first opportunity or perhaps simply decline to participate from the outset.

Stock Appreciation Rights (“SARs”) might be one option, but it definitely needs more thought.

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

It recognises the contribution that everyone makes to a firm’s success, regardless of their level.

Which aspect of the Esop Centre do you most value?

That would have to be the community spirit amongst the members, with the Centre leading by example!

Which aspect of the Esop Centre would you most like to change?

Perhaps more informal get-togethers from time to time. Pub quiz perhaps!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being on the river bank, fly-fishing rod in hand and a cold beverage in the other!

What is your most marked characteristic?

Well that would be stubbornness or perseverance – I’ll let time decide.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being able to work with many fantastic companies and in turn becoming great friends with my counterparts there.

Personally that would have to surviving in London which is no mean feat for a Scotsman that grew up in the countryside and more accustomed to welly boots than a suit & tie!

What historical figure do you most identify with?

Sir Douglas Bader.

Which living person do you most admire?

Tricky to single one out, but Sir Tom Farmer would be amongst the top three. A true entrepreneur, self-made success and founder of Kwik-Fit. He made a speech at my school leavers’ ceremony that I’ve never forgotten. It was about recognising what you’re not good at and making sure whatever you do do, you perform that role to the very best of your ability. You don’t have to be book smart to succeed, just determined and passionate about it.

Who are your heroes in real life?

That would be my late grandfather. Started work at 14 before becoming a Spitfire Pilot during WW2 then after the war, building up an international textile business. His energy and motivation was contagious throughout the workforce and remains an inspiration to this day.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse?


What is your most treasured possession?

Although not technically a possession, that would be Florence, my two-year-old black Labrador.