Six months ago I shared that my company ESPP had become my property tax escrow.
A quick refresher…an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) is a benefit offered by some publicly traded corporations. It’s basically an account you stash money into for a specified period of time (6 months for me), and at the end of the term, your funds are automatically used to buy company stock. Where’s the benefit, you say? Well, you get to buy the stock at a discount (for me, 85% of the price). That’s a 15% return. Nice!
Flipping an ESPP
“Flipping” the ESPP is when you immediately sell your company shares upon purchase. I plan on flipping my ESPP for a couple of reasons. One, I have too much of my portfolio and livelihood invested in my company already (i.e. too many eggs in one basket). Two, I need this money to pay my property taxes, due in January 2009.
Are ESPP Flips Ethical?
Some have questioned flipping as unethical. I challenged that idea initially, and have been validated by my company’s recent move. The brokerage firm that handles our ESPP process allows you to sign up for ESPP Quicksale. The Quicksale is what it sounds like: by activating Quicksale, the broker will immediately sell my shares of stock in the company upon purchase. They are essentially doing the flip for me. Hardly unethical I’d say.
The ESPP Flip Proceeds
The cash proceeds from the Quicksale will be deposited into my account or sent to me as soon as the transaction settles. We’ve signed up for the next round of ESPP as well. I see this as another great short-term savings vehicle we’re likely going to use every time it’s offered.
Do you have a ESPP like me? Do you flip it? If not, why? Do you see it as unethical?