Sharing in the company’s good fortunes

Based in West Cork, Global Shares provides international companies with employee share schemes, and after a bumper 2012, it is now looking to hire additional staff for its Clonakilty headquarters, writes Trish Dromey

Getting the new year off to an energetic start, West Cork share-plan administration company Global Shares has now launched a recruitment drive with a view to taking on 15 additional staff.

“We are looking for IT staff and for business graduates to work as share plan analysts,” said Tim Houstoun, who took on the role of company CEO in mid-2012 following a buyout by staff and shareholders.

The company currently employs a staff of 40 at its Clonakilty headquarters, as well as 14 others at offices in the US, UK, India and China.

Last year was an exceptionally busy year for Global Shares, which won several large international contracts. New clients included Telefonicia, Living Social, Gilead and Nokia and already this year the company has begun providing its services to German software giant SAP.

“Working with an IT company of the calibre of SAP is a significant achievement for Global Shares and a sign of greater things to come,’’ said Mr Houstoun.

In business since 2006, the company achieved sales of $5m in 2012. It has in the region of 150 customers spread across 18 countries on four continents and provides share plans for 500,000 employees in 70 countries. Mr Houstoun says sales have been growing by 25% to 30% for the last three years and he is expecting that the growth rate will be even greater in 2013.

Customers include large banks and financial organisations as well as a diverse range of manufacturing companies. Cargill, the largest private company in the US, has been a client since 2008 and last year signed a new five-year contract.

Other customers include Cork-based electronic company PCH International, European commercial Bank UniCredit, computer gaming giant, global financial institution ING, cosmetic company Coty, Canadian brewer Labatts as well as Brazilian drinks company Ambev.

In the region of 98% of sales are to international clients. “Our biggest single market is the US which accounts for 60% of our business and we are also seeing growth in Europe and Asia. We have recently signed a bank in Saudi Arabia, taken on a customer in Singapore and we also won three very large international clients in Finland,’’ said MrHoustoun.

Seven years since its creation in 2006, Global Shares is partnered with Deloitte, UBS, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Charles Schwab and Oppenheimer amongst others. According to Mr Houstoun, it is now the largest independent company in the world operating in this space and is also one of a few companies to manage employee share schemes on a global scale.

Mr Houstoun believes that the company’s recent successes have come about largely because of technological advancements in the company’s offerings which include a range of equity solutions. “We’re winning contracts over much larger competitors thanks to a combination of our innovative software and excellent team of people.”

“Enterprise Ireland assisted us with R&D funding and we built our own IT department. Two years ago we had one IT staff member and today we have 26,’’ Mr Houstoun continues. Upping the emphasis on IT resulted in the launch of a new product called EquityGateway which provides employees access to their share plans and equity information online.

During 2012, the company, which is based in the West Cork Technology Park in Clonakilty, moved to a larger premises to accommodate its expanding workforce. “We now fill three times the space of our initial premises and this new recruitment drive means we will eventually expand our offices even further.’’

Another significant event of last year was the buyout of the founders by a group led by Richard Hayes, who is chairman of Global Shares and was previously founder and CEO of the IFG Group Plc. Mr Houstoun, along with a number of executives, was part of the buyout group.

At the end of 2012 Global Shares was shortlisted for the Irish Software Exporter of the year award. The company has a number of ambitious plans for 2013 and expects to be a contender for this award again at the end of this year.

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