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Group Five Releases Annual Client Ratings Of Corporate Stock Plan Administration Service Providers

PRINCETON, N.J., Oct. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Corporate services research company Group Five today announced the results of its annual study of corporate satisfaction with stock plan administrators, administration systems, and financial reporting services.

The study is the largest ever conducted in the stock plan industry with 822 plan sponsors participating -- representing 2,416 stock plans including stock options, restricted stock, stock purchase, performance shares, and stock appreciation rights. The annual study, which includes the largest providers of stock plan administration services, commercial systems, and financial reporting services, is the only independent forum for corporate stock plan sponsors to make their opinions and priorities known to service providers.

For full administration stock plan services, Fidelity Investments, for the second year in a row, received the highest overall plan sponsor satisfaction rating with a score of 88% favorable. UBS, with their strongest results ever, received the second highest satisfaction rating with a score of 87%.

"Fidelity is delighted to be recognized by the industry and our valued clients for our commitment to providing the best customer service experience available," said Kevin Barry, executive vice president of Fidelity's Stock Plan Services business. "We will continue to invest in the technologies to provide the best customer experience for our plan sponsors and their participants."

UBS received the highest overall satisfaction rating for partial stock plan administration services at 92% favorable. E*TRADE had the second highest partial administration services overall satisfaction rating at 88%.

Michael Barry, head of equity compensation business at UBS said, "UBS understands that providing advice and services to both corporations and their employees makes the difference in an equity plan. We are honored to receive these high client satisfaction ratings as acknowledgement of our dedication to delivering the best equity compensation and wealth management services."

Bank of America Merrill Lynch continues to be a leader in international stock plan services with the highest ratings for two consecutive years in international mobility support as well as top ratings for three consecutive years in overall satisfaction with international plan participant service.

"Bank of America Merrill Lynch takes great pride in bringing holistic solutions to our clients, many of whom have growing international populations," said Martin Hirsch Director, Equity Awards Services, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "We are pleased to be recognized for our participant services as we strive to deliver the best participant experience."

For commercial systems used to do in-house stock plan administration, E*TRADE's technology continues to lead the industry. Once again E*TRADE received the highest overall satisfaction ratings for their commercial administration systems. Equity Edge Online received the highest overall satisfaction rating at 87% favorable followed by the Equity Edge platform at 83%.

"Our industry leading technology is the foundation on which E*TRADE Corporate Services builds and delivers powerful end-to-end solutions for corporate stock plan administrators," said Jim Wulfhorst, president, E*TRADE Corporate Services. "It is very gratifying that our more than 1,400 clients including 22% of the S&P 500 recognize the value of what we deliver to the market."

In addition to measuring satisfaction with administration services and systems, for the first time this year the study measured satisfaction with financial accounting and reporting services for stock plans. Equity Methods received the highest overall satisfaction rating at 92% favorable.

Takis Makridis, President and CEO, Equity Methods said, "Equity Methods offers clients a flexible, cost-effective, service-based solution that leverages the expertise of our consulting professionals and best-in-class technology to handle financial reporting for many of the world's largest and most complex equity plans, including 26% of the Fortune 100. We are focused on delivering peace of mind through accuracy, auditability, and expert-level knowledge, and are thrilled that clients have recognized our commitment to this ideal."

"For the eighth consecutive year the number of respondents to our study has increased. We sincerely appreciate the time and support from plan sponsors. Clearly plan sponsors see value in this research and more and more service providers have come to rely on the study for measuring performance and for setting business priorities. Group Five is committed to remaining the stock plan industry's preeminent source for trusted, accurate, and objective administration services satisfaction data," said Kathy Huston, managing partner, Group Five.

The summary report of the study findings will be available from the Group Five website at www.groupfiveinc.com.

Group Five is a corporate services research and consulting firm. The firm is best known for its research expertise in stock plan administration and shareholder services.

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of Group Five, Inc.

SOURCE GROUP FIVE