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Program Outline

Organizations and individuals use the exams as a measurement of basic (ECA Exam), intermediate (Level II), and advanced (Level III) knowledge, skills, and abilities. The following are expected levels of competency for issues in each of the courses. For more information about exam registration, click here

Audience: New professionals

Experience: < 2 years of equity compensation experience

Relationship with internal and external service providers: General knowledge of responsibilities; interaction limited to specific functions

Relationship with equity plans: reactive

Knowledge base: Policies, procedures, and routine transactions

Fundamentals in Equity Compensation (ECA Exam)

  • A basic understanding of corporations and the frameworks for corporate governance and finance
  • An understanding of why corporations use equity compensation
  • The ability to differentiate between types of equity compensation
  • A working knowledge of equity compensation terminology
  • A familiarity with the basic procedures necessary to effectively administer an equity compensation program
  • The ability to read and interpret plan documents

Audience: Experienced stock plan professionals

Experience: Passed Level 1; > 2 years of equity compensation experience

Relationship with internal and external service providers: Understands participation of internal departments and external service providers in administering employee equity compensation plans. May make recommendations to decision makers regarding selection of service providers

Relationship with equity plans: Interactive

Knowledge base: All aspects of plan administration, including roles of internal and external service providers

Intermediate Equity Compensation (Level II)

  • A thorough working knowledge of the basic tax, accounting, securities law, and corporate law aspects of equity compensation plans
  • A thorough understanding of certain common equity compensation-related transactions and issues
  • Familiarity with the specific code and regulatory provisions applicable to equity compensation programs
  • Familiarity with global implications of equity compensation plans

Audience: Experienced stock plan professionals with managerial and/or consultative responsibilities

Experience: Passed Level 2; exposure to various types of multidimensional plans

Relationship with internal and external service providers: Serves as liaison between all internal and external constituencies. Decision maker in service provider selection process. Holds service providers accountable. Often serves as consultant.

Relationship with equity plans: Proactive

Knowledge base: A complete understanding of the interrelated responsibilities of all equity compensation knowledge domains

Advanced Equity Compensation (Level III)

  • Ability to identify, analyze, and help resolve complex problems, with particular skills in situations that require an understanding of the interaction among several technical areas
  • An understanding of special equity compensation transactions and issues, such as issues related to corporate governance
  • An understanding of cash-based equity compensation programs, as well as an in-depth understanding of advanced employee stock plan financing methods and certain complex tax and accounting issues
  • Advanced understanding of global implications of equity compensation plans

1) Corporate and Securities Law

  • Effects of resale and registration requirements and exemptions of the Securities Act of 1933 as applied to privately-owned and publicly-held companies
  • Securities Exchange Act of 1934 requirements for periodic reporting, proxy solicitation, tender offers, and insider trading
  • Characteristics and authority of public and private companies - board of directors, business entities, blue sky laws

2) Accounting

Accounting implications to equity compensation of:

  • Accounting Standards Codification Topic 718 - ASC 718 (Previously Financial Accountings Standards Board Statement No. 123 Revised "FAS 123R")
  • IFRS 2
  • Financial Accountings Standards Board Interpretation No. 28 ("FIN28")

3) Taxation

Implications of taxation rules surrounding equity compensation plans:

  • Internal Revenue Code Nos. 421, 422, 423, 424
  • Knowledge of income tax collection and deduction rules applicable to companies and to recipients of equity compensation

4) Equity Plan Design, Analysis, and Administration

  • Awareness of the different equity compensation vehicles and requirements
  • Knowledge of various processes and procedures to accomplish equity compensation goals
  • Understanding of standard and unique equity compensation plan provisions and documents and their effects to recipients and the company
  • Insight into shareholder concerns and considerations with respect to equity compensation
Functional Area Level I percentage weighting* Level II percentage weighting* Level III percentage weighting*
Equity Plan Design, Analysis, and Administration 33% 26% 26%
Accounting 12% 20% 24%
Corporate and Securities Law 25% 28% 26%
Taxation 30% 26% 24%


*Note:  Beginning with the 2012 exams, the CEPI will include 10% experimental items on the tests.  Experimental items are unscored, unidentified items, and may not adhere to these percentages.  Scored items WILL reflect this weighting.