Maintaining Momentum on HR 2096

Two more Congressional representatives recently joined the list of co-sponsors for pro-ESOP bill HR 2096: Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Todd Rokita or Indiana.

This is excellent progress toward our goal of 100 co-sponsors for this important piece of legislation!

To see the latest legislative update video from Michael Keeling, President of The ESOP Association, click here.


July 2015 Link Round Up

It’s that time again…see what you might have missed this month.


Booth Sales Open for 2015 Las Vegas Conference & Trade Show


ESOP Association President Comments on the Passing of Carolyn B. Long


Raise the Bar: More Pro-ESOP Bill Sponsors Needed


ESOP Chapter Membership


2015 Summer Advocacy Kits Available


New Center for American Progress Report Touts Capitalism for Everyone


Discussions of Capitalism

ESOP Company News for July

July 2015 Legislative Update

The July 2015 ESOP Report was published

Publications Highlight: Administration Handbook

Mid-Atlantic Chapter Round Table Re-Cap

2015 Las Vegas Conference and Trade Show Preliminary Agenda released

RELEASE: Expansion of S ESOPs Recommended by Senate Finance Committee’s Tax Reform Working Group on Savings & Investment

Welcome New ESOP Association Professional Members

Northwest Chapter News

Information on the Las Vegas Conference and Trade Show

Discussions of Capitalism

You may have seen this op-ed column in The New York Times:

Capitalism for the Rest of Us


The authors of the column are well-known employee ownership researchers, Dr. Joseph Blasi and Dr. Douglas Kruse at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University and Dr. Richard Freeman at Harvard University.

The column makes some great points about the value of employee ownership; we won’t repeat these points here. Go read the column.

What you may also have seen was criticism of the column and its ideas (well-researched ideas we should point out), by Fox News. Here’s where we get confused. Fox is saying this is all part of a liberal agenda when former President Ronald Reagan was a very strong supporter of ESOPs. We offer this video as proof.



ESOP Association Members Named Great Places to Work!

Congratulations to ESOP Association members Clif Bar & Co., Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc., and W. L. Gore & Associates on being named to the 2015 Great Place to Work list. All three companies were honored in the People’s Picks: 15 Great Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production category. Take a look at the list.

More on each company

Clif Bar & Co.

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.

W.L. Gore & Associates

15 Great Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production release

From the website: About Great Rated!™ – While organizations look to recruit and hire the right candidate, job seekers are equally interested in finding the right position at the right company. That’s why Great Rated!™ —the new survey-based workplace review website—from Great Place to Work® uses data and insights for a true picture of the workplace and elevates the hiring experience. Great Rated! organizations are serious about creating great workplaces, comfortable with transparency and interested in sharing the unique aspects treasured by employees.

About Great Place to Work® – Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and employer branding programs, including Best Companies lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. Great Place to Work®’s Trust Index©, a 58-question employee survey that measures trust, is used around the world to help companies increase the levels of trust across their organizations and improve business results. Annually, Great Place to Work® produces the annual FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® list and the Great Place to Work® Best Small and Medium Workplaces list.

July 2014 Link Round-Up

SEL employee owners share experiences with Illinois Congressman

Congressional visits by ESOP Association members during this year’s Annual Conference

An article by Dr. Joseph Blasi: The Founding Fathers Feared a Powerful One Percent

A few ESOP articles of interest

July ESOP Report was posted

We talked about the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s ESOP Initiative Program

Some more ESOP news highlights

The 2014 Employee Owner Retreat is getting close

2014 Summer Advocacy Kits are available

ESOP Association Members Make Fortune’s 2014 100 Best Companies to Work For

Congratulations go out to four members of The ESOP Association that have been named to Fortune’s list of the 100 best Companies to Work For.

Burns & McDonnell Engineers-Architects, Kansas City, MO

W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., Newark, DE

Publix Super Markets, Inc., Lakeland, FL

TDIndustries, Inc., Dallas, TX

“Congratulations to our members,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling. “Employees with employee stock ownership, including those with ESOPs, in general, have more sustainable employment. Our national leaders need to take note and understand that we need national policies to encourage employee stock ownership among working Americans. It’s the best jobs policy we have.”

To view the complete list, click here.

AICPA Supports Bills to Block Change in DOL Fiduciary Rule for Appraisers of ESOPs

We received the following email from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) earlier this week and wanted to share. From their website, the AICPA is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with nearly 386,000 members in 128 countries and a 125-year heritage of serving the public interest. The email follows:

The American Institute of CPAs wrote Congress on July 10 in support of legislation (S. 273 and H.R. 2041) that would block the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) 2010 proposal to change its definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to include appraisers of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).  The AICPA has repeatedly argued that, rather than expand the definition, as proposed by DOL, rules should be implemented to ensure that only qualified individuals prepare valuations for benefit plans and that individuals follow recognized valuation standards.

The AICPA’s letter to Congress is below.


July 10, 2013


The Honorable Tom Harkin

Chairman, Health Education Labor and

Pensions Committee

United States Senate

Washington, DC  20510


The Honorable Lamar Alexander

Ranking Member, Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee United States Senate Washington, DC  20510


The Honorable John Kline

Chairman, Education and Workforce Committee United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC  20515


The Honorable George Miller

Ranking Member, Education and Workforce Committee United States House of Representatives Washington, DC  20515


RE: S. 273 and H.R. 2041


Dear Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Alexander, Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Miller:

On behalf of the nearly 386,000 members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), I am writing to encourage you to cosponsor S. 273/H.R. 2041, a bill that would prohibit the Department of Labor (DOL) from moving forward on its re-proposal to expand the definition of a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to include independent appraisers of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs).

Many CPAs perform business valuation services for ESOPs by providing an independent, third-party objective appraisal of the stock of employer companies that sponsor ESOPs.  Many of these appraisals are also used for other purposes including satisfying the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements related to the ESOP’s tax-exempt status.  The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) requires that ESOP valuations be obtained from an independent appraiser at least annually.  If the DOL were to redefine an ERISA fiduciary to include ESOP appraisers an inherent conflict would arise between the DOL and IRS requirements for ESOP appraisers.  An ERISA fiduciary must act solely in the interest of plan participants and their beneficiaries and therefore cannot provide an independent, third-party objective perspective.

The DOL has not demonstrated a need for such a broad and far-reaching change from more than 35 years of established policy.  The DOL proposal is a draconian response to a very small number of deficient ESOP appraisals. In testimony before Congress and responses to Congressional inquiries and private requests from the AICPA, the DOL has provided only a few cases of deficient appraisals over the past 20 years out of tens of thousands of ESOP appraisals performed annually.  Further, our analysis of the DOL cases involving CPAs found that in the vast majority of these cases the courts found the appraisers’ work to be satisfactory but that the plan trustee improperly used the work of the appraiser.

The DOL has announced plans to re-issue its previous 2010 proposal later this year.  The AICPA is concerned that the new proposal will essentially mirror the previous proposal and, if finalized, will unnecessarily subject all ESOP appraisers to an increased legal liability and require them to purchase expensive fiduciary liability insurance.  This would, in turn, increase the costs to all ESOP plans and reduce the amount available for participants and beneficiaries.

The DOL’s concerns with the quality of ESOP appraisals could be addressed with a far more targeted solution. Unlike other federal agencies including the IRS and Small Business Administration (SBA), the DOL, does not have any minimum requirements or standards for appraisers.  The AICPA and other stakeholders have suggested in comment letters and testimony that the DOL implement rules to ensure that only properly qualified individuals perform ESOP valuations and those individuals follow recognized valuation standards. Requiring ESOP appraisers to have specialized training, credentials, and to adhere to professional standards would protect participants and beneficiaries in a cost effective manner.  This approach would be consistent with the IRS and SBA rules for appraisals and thus avoid the potential for conflicting requirements across federal agencies.

The AICPA fully supports the goal of protecting the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans.  Ensuring the quality of sponsor company valuations is critical to making prudent decisions regarding plan investments.

Thank you for considering cosponsorship of S.273/H.R. 2041.  Please feel free to contact Diana Huntress Deem, Director, Congressional and Political Affairs Team at 202.434.9276 if you have any questions.


Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA

President and CEO


Members of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee

Responsive Design & The ESOP Association’s Website

In late 2012, The ESOP Association released its newly re-designed website. As part of the re-design, the site is now accessible on smartphones and tablets through mobile and responsive design versions that make navigation easier. To see what we’re talking about, open the Association’s website on your smartphone or tablet.

And this is the bit where we brag a bit. In the ASAE’s (American Society for Association Executives) magazine, Associations Now, June 2013 Guide to Technology Solutions issue, The ESOP Association was featured in an article on responsive design. Go ahead, take a look.

January 2013 Review

In case you missed a day in January, here’s a quick re-cap.

Do you know the ESOP advocates?

Information on the ESOP Fiduciary Handbook

ESOP Association members made Fortune’s 2013 Best Companies to Work For list

Events to add to your calendar

Foundation news: Rutgers Mid-Year Fellows Symposium

January 2013 ESOP Report was published

American Bar Association Section on Tax sent a letter to the DOL on the definition of a fiduciary

New research shows that ESOPs save the federal government billions

The Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest is now accepting submissions

Emerging Scholar Awards information

AACE Awards opened for entries