ESOP Education for All of Us

At MSI we take continuing education and certifications seriously, applying that approach to our administrative side as well as to our technical side. The ESOP landscape that we operate within continues to change as quickly as the technical landscape that we work in for our customers. As a member of this ESOP community, we want to take advantage of shared information and best practices among other ESOP companies.

To that end, this year we participated in several ESOP conferences. We had attendees at the ESOP Association’s Annual Conference in DC in May; the ESOP Association’s Joint Mid-Atlantic and Carolinas Spring Conference in NC in March; the ESOP Association’s Mid-Atlantic CEO, CFO, and HR Roundtables in June; the ESOP Association’s Annual Technical Conference in Las Vegas last November; and the National Council for Employee Ownership’s (NCEO) Annual Conference in Denver in April. In addition, we are taking an online ESOP Fiduciary Training course that will provide us an industry certification.

The classes, sessions, and discussions focused on a several areas of interest: the two recent court cases that dramatically changed the way the Department of Labor (DoL) monitors ESOPs and transactions involving ESOPs; new IRS procedures and interpretations; corporate governance; leadership and employee engagement; employee communications; open books management; recruiting; and culture.

We are happy to report that the conferences confirmed one thing very clearly: we’re doing things pretty well here at MSI! We are analyzing the lessons learned and considering some adjustments to aid in our governance and communications. But overall, we do not have any changes that will affect the day-to-day operations of the company or how we have the ESOP set up.

One interesting note: a recent court decisions emphasized that all ESOP companies should invest in the education of their employees about ESOP operations. At MSI, we believe we are right on track in this regard! We continuously strive to keep our employees educated and up-to-date about the ESOP through ESOP 101 and 201 training, monthly team meetings, open books policies, and other corporate outreach and communication.