Equity Compensation Planning

Turn Opportunity into a Flightpath to Success

You’re a highflying executive trying to capitalize on the opportunities that success has brought you. You’re in a hurry to enjoy the fruits of your labors but time is a major barrier.

If asked when you’d like to retire, you’d say “Yesterday.”

Many WestStar Advisors advise tech executives (at WestStar we call them ‘Aviators’) who are caught up in the complexity that comes with understanding and optimizing their earnings. They come to us looking for someone to guide their journey and create investment, diversification, and tax strategies to get them where they want to be.

Maybe you want to get off the treadmill of tech by age 55, or maximize the opportunity of a future IPO to gain financial independence; or perhaps you have a growing family and are weighing up the trade-offs in giving them a great chance at life.

We don’t simply advise you on what to do, we show you how to do it, and shoulder a significant portion of the load.

Make the Most of What You’ve Earned ─ use Your Equity to Really Fly!


Our free eBook unpacks the main types of equity compensation, and explains how to make the most of everything that’s offered to you.

To Maximize Your Plans and Benefits, download now.


“My time-stressed Aviator clients are compensated with stock and other benefits that can be difficult to understand. They need advice that fits their personal life plan, and the benefits they receive.”

Michel Smith: CRPC®, Financial Consultant

We’ve helped many professionals make the most of their company stock programs for years.

We know the surest paths to follow and will work with you in developing a clear flightpath to chart your progress to your goals.

When we first chat with highflyer clients, we expect to find the following things on their minds:

Am I maximizing the benefits and compensation being offered to me?
Am I doing everything I can to secure my family’s future?
What can I do to make sure my plan is crash-proof?
How long will it take to get set up for life?
How do I grow the resources I’ve built?
How soon can I find all of this out?

If you’re looking to answer these questions, then let’s talk about how we can help you.

Our Equity Compensation Expertise Includes:

Non-Qualified Stock Options (NSO or NQSO) | Incentive Stock Options (ISO) |  Restricted Stocks | Restricted Stock Units (RSU) | Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPP) | Nonqualified Deferred Compensation (NQDC) Plans | Retention Bonuses | Performance Stock Units | Vesting Schedules | Managing Blackout Dates | Avoiding Concentrated Stock Risk | Tax Strategies

Optimizing Stock-based Compensation Programs

One of the first questions we ask our Aviator clients is ‘what does your idea of a prosperous life look like?’ We often find the answer to this is why they reached out to us.

We always start with what you want out of life because the answer tells us what to pack into a financial plan that works as hard as you do to meet your goals.  Without clarity, it is difficult to take focused action.

To anyone with stock compensation programs it all seems like a complex management challenge, but there are significant rewards for those who manage them well. Conversely, these rewards become missed opportunities that can be costly.

We find most people aren’t aware of what they can create when their compensation programs are managed with an understanding of their goals, timing of grants, and navigation of blackout dates.

Many don’t realize just how much value is often left on the table. Time stress is a common factor among tech professionals and so we help you understand the key concepts along with terms and conditions of your grant, while also keeping a close watch on all the essential management details.

Managing Vesting Schedules, Payouts, and Tax Strategies

We offer practiced guidance on how to optimize your stock compensation programs and turn complex challenges into a clear flightpath to your goals.

Thankfully there is a clear timeline that governs the process, and this is set out in your vesting schedule. These schedules apply to almost all stock-based compensation packages.

– Time-based Vesting (includes Cliff Vesting)
– Graded Vesting
– Performance-based Vesting
– Mixed Vesting

The trick is to know the rules and restrictions, and precisely how your rewards can be of greatest benefit to you. Then, to turn the complex challenges into a clear flightpath to follow.

Our ‘advice in plain English’ approach also covers the tax implications surrounding your compensation programs and we help you make decisions with a long-term financial plan in mind.

Many companies offer Restricted Stock and Restricted Stock Units, often in combination with Stock Options.

Find out more about the differences between restricted stock and RSUs and what these mean to the stockholder.

“Along with our Aviator clients’ financial success comes a great burden and a real challenge to being happy, and balancing their life’s priorities. We help them attain true freedom, independence and the confidence that brings clarity and joyful living.”

Sam Gullette CFP®, CLU®, Certified Financial Planner ™

Technology & tools to put you in the pilot's seat

Working with WestStar means you’ll have a co-pilot in your cabin. You’ll get to see your future through a professional’s eyes, and have the tools and tech you need on a digital platter.

Our Navigator 360° Flightpath is a strategic plan that defines your personal goals and outcomes, pinpoints priorities, and charts your routes to success. It also serves as a communication tool that articulates our strategic thinking in a clear, understandable, and actionable way.

Beneath the dashboard lies a simulator that measures your plan in multiple scenarios. We can measure your probability of success and create scenarios that show you your trajectory based on our recommendations.

It’s an incredibly dynamic tool that brings your overall prosperity into focus: stock compensation, investments, savings, Social Security income, pension information, insurance, retirement and more.

Your Navigator 360° Flightpath is strategically reviewed throughout our journey together, tracking your progress and course-correcting when necessary.

“Many of our older Aviator clients face caring for aging parents, and wonder how this will impact their reaching retirement readiness. How long can they work in their current role given its busyness, stress and responsibility?  What options do they have, and when can they afford to downshift without compromising their financial futures?”

Erik Alexander, Financial Consultant

Stock Concentration and Diversification

A concentrated stock risk occurs when you own a stock that represents a large percentage of your stock portfolio and your wealth becomes concentrated in this single stock.

“I help individuals with complex company stock benefits (mainly in the tech industry in the greater Seattle area), looking at it from a diversification perspective and educating them about how to diversify their tax liability.

Jarrod Haynes CRPC®, Financial Consultant

How Much to Hold?
How Much to Sell?
How to Decide?

Read our handy article on managing concentrated stock risk.

“Many highflyers view stock compensation as a form of quasi-golden handcuffs, locking part of their compensation into the typical 4-year vesting schedule. When companies rear-load their RSU vesting schedule it becomes financially tougher to switch companies. It is common for employees to live on their paycheck alone, and they often under-prioritize the equity compensation component of their income.”

Alex Fitch, MBA, CRPC®, AAMS®, Financial Consultant

Disclosure: “A diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or protect against loss in a declining market.”

Relationships built on trust

At WestStar we believe that trust is earned. Our relationships are real, honest and candid. We say what we do, and we do what we say.

We tailor our interactions and communications according to your schedule and preferences.

Our personal touch and care is evident in all of our relationships, many of which have served our highflying clients and their families’ best interests for decades.

If that sounds like a relationship worth pursuing, then we would be delighted to partner with you in getting you to where you want to go on your flightpath.

The sigh of relief from our Aviator clients when we show them how their hard work and compensation programs can get them to their goals is always a special moment.

Meet Our WestStar Advisors