Understanding Restricted Shares vs. Stock Options

Understanding Restricted Shares vs. Stock Options

Restricted shares and stock options both are types of equity compensation, but both arrive with certain terms.

Restricted shares are issued directly and their owner has the equal rights as all shareholders. For instance, they can earn dividends and go voting at the yearly meetup. But, the shares can be purchased and the firm can claim the right to purchase back unpaid shares in case their worker quits.

Stock options are the right to purchase a set share amount at a particular cost in upcoming times. The worker would have a windfall in the case the firm’s stock price goes over that cost. Stock options, such as limited shares, are frequently issued.


  • Restricted shares and stock options are types of equity incentives that are given to workers.
  • Restricted shares reflect the ownership of the company, yet are subject to restrictions on the timing of their selling.
  • Stock options are the right to purchase a set share amount at a particular cost in the future, with workers benefiting just in the case the stock cost then goes over the stock option cost.

Restricted Shares

Restricted shares are the direct granting of equity ownership in a corporation. They’re popular in developed businesses that wish to empower workers by providing them with an equity stake.

They are generally, though, allocated – when limited shares are issued to a worker, it is on the term that the worker continues to work at the firm for an amount of years or ’til a certain firm benchmark has been achieved. This may be a target of earnings or some other financial objective.

Those shares are frequently issued in phases, each with their vesting date or benchmark.

Shares can be limited by the provision of a two-time trigger. This means that the shares of the worker will turn into unregulated ones if the firm is purchased and the worker is dismissed as a result of the restructuring.

Insiders are frequently given limited shares following a merger or another significant corporate happening. The purpose of the restrictions is to discourage early sale, which could adversely have an effect on the business.

An executive who leaves the firm and does not succeed to achieve performance targets or to place restrictions on SEC trading could have to give in their limited stocks.

They are offered to workers as motivation, but limited shares are most commonly issued by existing businesses, whereas stock options are common with start-ups.

Stock Options

Worker stock options are a guarantee of upcoming earnings that may or may not come to fruition. They are frequently given by start-up firms that did not yet become public and wish to inspire workers to get the business up and running.

Share options do not require ownership transfer. They are the right to purchase shares at a fixed cost at some future date. Employees benefit from the disparity between the incentive price and the real marketplace price.

Stock options are usually limited by a marketplace standoff provision which limits share selling for a set timespan following an IPO in order to stabilize the marketplace stock price.