Louise Drake - Retirement

February 2021

After 27 fantastic years I will be leaving Yorkshire Building Society on 26th February – it’s all good news I am taking (very!) early retirement, so from 1st March I will be a lady who lunches at a social distance with a cockerpoo called Harry!!

In terms of my replacement, after shadowing me for the last 12 month’s Darren Smith from my team has been successful in securing the role and will lead the team going forward. In addition Beverley Johnson (who has been transitioning from 5 – 3 days over recent years) will be retiring from 30th March.

Cathy and Michael will continue to lead the existing business Sales Team and Garry the Operational Teams.

I am delighted to be able to share this great success story with you and I hope you will join me in a virtual “toast” to Darren Smith and the team for the future.

Thank you for your support over the years and for the support I know you will continue to give the team in a variety of forms. This is a great success story.

All that remains for me to say, is stay well, stay happy and live life.

With much thanks and appreciation.


Christmas Virtual Coffee Mornings

December 2020

Throughout December we organised a series of Christmas Virtual Coffee Mornings with our consultants hosted by Darren Smith. These events are designed as a fun way of staying connected and sharing information especially during our current climate. Greta Rondinelli hosted a series of Rising Star Virtual Coffee mornings for those who are new to Share Plans and wanting to share information expand their knowledge and their network. The feedback was extremely positive and all those attending felt more connected.

‘It was great to see everyone on our Christmas Coffee mornings, letting their hair down and ready for the much needed time out from yet another ‘Teams’ call and now I know that “Die Hard” can be considered a Christmas film’ said Michelle Merola

if you would like to attend any future events please reach-out to Greta

12 Days of Christmas Social Media Advent Calendar

December 2020

In the days leading up to Christmas we decided to have a lot of fun and frolics to brighten everyone’s spirits during the cold winter days while sharing fun facts about YBS Share Plans. Louise Drake kicked off the festivities on the 30 Nov with a message on social media warning everyone about the fun to be had.

A special thank you to those who participated. Have a look at how creative they are:

Introduction Louise Drake
1st Day of Christmas: Peter Smith
2nd Day of Christmas: Bryony Padgett-Jones
3rd Day of Christmas: Beverley Johnson
4th Day of Christmas: Michelle Merola
5th Day of Christmas: Darren Smith
6th Day of Christmas: Michelle Murphy
7th Day of Christmas: Hannah Jennings
8th Day of Christmas: Lee Simpson
9th Day of Christmas: Sharon Stirling
10th Day of Christmas: Zoe Denny-Thomas, Chris Mowatt, Hannah Needle
11th Day of Christmas: Richard Conway
12th Day of Christmas: Paul Wonford

Merry Christmas Message from Louise Drake and special guest star ‘Harry Drake.

GEO Awards

What an amazing night at the GlobalEquityOrganization Awards Night for the UK Chapter hosted by Darren Smith.

The GEO UK Chapter awards were designed to bring the Share Plans Family a fun end to what has been a tough year. The event was slightly different this year, not only was it held virtually, it had some quirky awards to bring much needed humour to 2020.

Our very own Darren Smith hosted the awards and made use of his stand-up comedy training with Share Plans related comedy to start the night. It went down a storm and led to the award winners doing their own comedy acceptance speeches. Fab night had by all.

A huge congratulations to all the winners. A special mention to Sophie Altaf for her tireless work and the GEO UK Chapter Team for making this event so amazing. #lockdownisourtime

Charlotte Cooper Danny Curran Mitan Patel Sian Halcrow-Wilson John Ball Alexander Walsh June Davenport Joe Fomenky Zoe Denny-Thomas Chris Mowatt Karen Morley Mike Baker Julie Shepherd Pat Sims Sophie Altaf

Proshare Conference

1 October 2020

The Proshare Conference was held virtually this year Louise Drake, Darren Smith, Bryony Padgett- Jones and Greta Rondinelli were in attendance.

Darren Smith hosted "Financial Wellbeing: Financial Education is what you need if you want to be a record breaker!" with this amazing panel of guests on his virtual sofa.

Louise Drake Iona Bain Jason Butler Darren Laverty

ESOP Centre Virtual Sofa

4th June 2020

We were delighted be part of the ESOP Centre Virtual Sofa, Darren Smith hosted a very informative panel of speakers including Emma Parker (Tapestry); Ross Crick (VG); and Bryony Padgett-Jones (YBS Share Plans).

The team covered trends and topics around share plans prevalent at this time covering employee engagement; furlough; what decisions companies were making around new invitations; the impact on share plans and questions around managing costs for companies through this pandemic.

You can watch a recording of this webinar on our website here

The ESOP Centre also has many other recordings of past events you can explore on their youtube channel here

Please feel free to share, and if you would like to know more about future events that either YBS or the Share Plan Family are hosting please find contact details for Darren

GEO Share Plans Lounge

13th & 27th May 2020

During May the #GEOUK community have held two virtual GEO Share Plan Lounges, sharing learning and insight from leading issuers, administrations, advisors and EBT’s. The following gives you an overview of each of the events. If you would like to learn more about the content, or further Share Plan Lounge’s please find contact details for Darren here

  • 27 May – GEO Share Plans Lounge – Hosted by Darren Smith panel guests were Dexter Tang (Google), Suzannah Crookes (Ernst & Young), Elaine Graham (Zedra), Charlotte Malan (KPMG) and Iain Wilson (Shareworks)
  • 13 May – GEO Share Plans Lounge – Hosted by Darren Smith panel guests were Emma Carter (Aggreko), Lynette Jacobs (Pinsent Masons), Arran Simpson (Deloitte) and Sophie Altaf (Fidelity)
  • The sessions covered what each of the speakers were seeing in their area of expertise, giving an overview from a Share Plan Issuer, Law, Tax and Administrator perspective.

    “I found both events really informative and fun, I would recommend anyone in the Share Plan community our wider group to join, it’s a great way of learning what others are doing and that we are all having the same challenges at this time. The strength of the extended network is really beneficial”. Says Bryony Padgett-Jones

    REBA - How employers are supporting the day-to-day financial wellbeing of workers during the coronavirus pandemic

    22 May 2020

    The panel that shared their perspectives and answered viewer questions as best they could were:

    Chair - Debi O'Donovan Founder and Director of REBA
    Mark Chadwick, Head of Pensions and Benefits at RBS
    Caroline Howes, Principal & Business Development Director at Mercer
    Andrew West, Head of Reward UK & Ireland at BOC UK & Ireland

    Some of the questions asked of the panel were:

  • How the concept of financial wellbeing has changed since the start of the coronavirus crisis: the role of pay as well as benefits and services?
  • What services, benefits and tactics are employers offering to working and furloughed employees?
  • Are workplace loans such as for hardship or to support homeworking a good or bad idea? Is there another way?
  • Identifying your most financially vulnerable employees, and ensuring you do not discriminate against particular groups such as women, the disabled or younger staff.
  • Can you support staff on furlough?
  • Can you help Zero Hours employees, contractors and gig workers in your organisation with their financial wellbeing?
  • How to communicate financial wellbeing to staff out on the front line or working from home?
  • Is there an opportunity to encourage savings in share schemes, ISAs, pensions among staff spending less than usual during lockdown?
  • “I have really enjoyed all the REBA webinars they have been really beneficial - the panel have been outstanding and the questions asked by Debi are well thought out, structured and the topics are on point.” said Greta

    #GEOUK community

    6th - 20th May 2020

    Darren and Greta have been attending the GEO Social Hour online event featureing a quiz, bingo, and member spotlights. This was a great opportunity to maintain connections with the #GEOUK community and make new ones and with Greta joining the team in April this was a fantastic way for her to meet the wider share plan community.

    “I really enjoyed the informal quiz – it was good to “virtually” meet people and have fun in the online workplace. Really looking forward to joining the Share Plan Lounges and getting to know more of you” said Greta

    ProShare and ShareCentre Quiz Night

    14 May 2020

    “What a fun night, Gabbi Stopp CEO of ShareGift and her son Arthur were very entertaining quiz masters and it was really humbling to see such a generous charitable donation to the winner’s charity of choice of £2,500 A really informal way of staying in touch” shared Darren

    Tapestry Worldwide Webinar – Covid-19: Impact on UK Share Incentive Plans and Sharesave (SAYE)

    06 May 2020

    Development Manager, Bryony Padgett-Jones joined the Tapestry Compliance Team to share her insight into how COVID-19 was effecting All Employee Share Plans from an administrators perspective specifically looking at, can you carry on with business as usual when so much around us is unknown. To learn more from this great informal insight a recording of the webinar can be found here

    ProShare Celebrating Excellence

    13 February 2020

    Celebrating Excellence is where all the companies who were successful winners at the ProShare Awards share best practise with their peer group to continually improve how we articulate their benefits of the various share plans to employees. Please find the link to all Pro Share Events here

    “I always find these events very informative, and really enjoying learning how companies are using a variety of tools to engage there employees is such a worthwhile employee benefit” said Michelle

    “This year was the best yet for me, there was a lot of honesty from the speakers, sharing difficulties they had and how they overcame them. Not only that but the audience supported all the speakers and gave them ideas to improve on future plans, highly recommended.” said Darren

    YBS Share Plans Regional Breakfast Event – Bristol

    11 February 2020

    Many of you will be familiar with our popular Regional Breakfast Events hosted by Darren, the 11th February was our very first event to be held in Bristol and we were delighted that so many of you joined us. A variety of topics were covered including Financial Wellbeing, a marketing masterclass on engaging employees globally and a Q&A session on the current law and tax hot topics. Please see more detail below.

    • Darren covered Financial Wellbeing and he shared key industry statistics and the benefits of adding Financial Education into the workplace.
    • Charlotte Cooper from Stitch explained to us ‘What the humble Big Mac’ has to teach us all about employee communications – i.e. think about your audience and how will the product be perceived and that a one size campaign does not fit all. She showed us some historical McDonalds marketing campaigns from around the world to highlight differences.
    • There was an informal Q&A session for the Share Plan specialists in the room, supported by Accountants, Lawyers and some of our YBS clients who shared their experiences, of share plan activities e.g. a plan launch when you have only been in role for a few months and understanding how difficult it is to have all of the data to hand when the Administrator needs it.

    A magic night at the 2018 ProShare Awards

    6 December 2018

    Another fabulous event to celebrate the very best achievements in the field of employee share plans. With 27 companies shortlisted by this year’s judging panel, 5 commendations and 13 winners, we were absolutely delighted to see our clients amongst them.

    It’s vital to recognise the fantastic benefits of employee share ownership and the continuing importance it can play in company development by giving employees a real stake in their business.

    Well done Gabbi and Zoe on another wonderful evening #ProShareAwards2018.

    Congratulations to all the winners..

    Download the Press Release (PDF, 711kb)

    Edinburgh Regional Share Plans Event

    8 November 2018

    On 8th November, our team at YBS Share Plans hosted another successful Share Plans event in Edinburgh. This is a key event in the calendar where we share the latest news, trends and best practices.

    This is what we covered:

    • Discretionary Plans - Policy & Advice
    • Employee Engagement - Nucleus Financial case study
    • Employee Engagement - Kier Group plc case study
    • Tax Update
    • Financial Wellbeing - Virgin Active case study

    We're happy to help! Please read our events notes for more detail. If you'd like to attend one of our events, email now to register your interest.

    Irish ProShare Association (“IPSA”) - Employee Share Ownership Day 2018 and the IPSA Awards

    26 June 2018


    Ensure your employees feel empowered over their financial stability.

    The second Employee Share Ownership Day (“ESOD18”) took place last week at Google HQ, Dublin. YBS Share Plans would like to thank Gill Brennan, IPSA CEO and the IPSA team for organising such an excellent event. This was a great platform for attendees to network with industry peers, catch up on the latest trends and benchmark the reward strategies in place against their own offering or those they design for their clients.

    Lord Mark Price provided an inspiring and passionate speech as he opened ESOD18, now Author and Businessman, former John Lewis Partnership (“JLP”) Deputy Chairman and UK Minister for Trade, Lord Price shared how important it is to empower employees, recognise them and keep them well informed.

    In summary, the JLP vision was to create happiness in its employees! No business figures, targets, just keep your employees happy, how amazing is that? JLP believed that if it has a happy workforce they would love coming to work (less sick days), they would work harder and look after things (more productivity and less wastage) and this in turn would bring in more profits that could be shared amongst the hard working employees. What a simply brilliant idea!

    Amongst the speakers, Gillian Dully, Associate Solicitor for LK Shields gave a brief overview of the different share plans available and the part they play in a company’s overall reward strategy and employee engagement. There were also a number of Panellists, including Gabbi Stopp from ProShare UK who spoke about the research YBS Share Plans had sponsored with Secondsight and WEALTH at work and how important it was to look at Millennials and Gender reporting going forward to really engage with the future decision makers.

    Moving on to the Awards evening…

    The IPSA Awards 2018 lived up to its promise to be an amazing night celebrating everything that is great about employee share ownership in Ireland. A black tie event which saw our very own Provident Financial win the award for Most Effective Employee Communications of an Employee Share Plan, for the second year running which Provident Financial and ourselves were delighted with.

    Darren Smith showcasing the Provident Financial Award with the team from Mercers…

    The ESOD is now in its second year and is a “must save” date for your diary to catch up with peers and benchmark the work you do in this space. I am happy to share further insight with you on this event (and others that we have been part of this year) just give me a call on 07736 551 270 or drop me a line to

    Forthcoming events

    Due to the impact of COVID 19 all planned events are suspended at the present time. We are updating our website regularly with information you may need, including details of any services that have been affected.

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