Website of the Month: myStockOptions.com

By Susan B. Anders

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OCTOBER 2007 - MyStockOptions.com is a financial planning website focused on stock options, stock plans, and related equity compensation topics. The website is designed to be useful to individual investors for their personal finance information needs, corporate employers, and professional advisors, including CPAs and CFPs. It offers articles, portfolio trackers, calculators, quizzes, a discussion forum, a global tax guide, and CFP continuing education. MyStockOptions.com is well organized and demonstrates how a website may be used as a marketing tool.

MyStockOptions.com (MSO) is a commercial organization, and as such, most of the information on the website is available only to paid subscribers. However, a wide selection of free materials can be accessed after registration, including selected articles and FAQs, a glossary, the myRecords portfolio tracker, a “quick-take” calculator for stock options, a discussion forum, “ask the experts,” and an e-mail newsletter.

The home and main pages are organized with a top banner containing three menu bars. The top menu bar focuses on popular features: tax center, global tax, newsletter, glossary, discussion, as well as about us and home, and buttons to sign in and register. The second menu bar has buttons for the user-specific tools of myRecords, myTools, myLibrary, and myClients. The third menu bar covers all of the topical areas on the website: basics, NQSOs, ISOs, ESPPs, restricted stock, SARs, financial planning, job events, life events, M&A, SEC law, and pre-IPO.

At the center of the homepage, users may choose one of three types of accounts: individuals, corporate, and financial and wealth advisors. A link to new and updated content is a neat feature, as is a similar resource for the newsletter. A few of the recent top articles are displayed. Throughout the website, features available only to subscribers have an MSO+ icon. Other materials are free, but require registration.

The home and main pages feature left-side indices that change with context. On the homepage, the index prompts a user to take a detailed tour of the website’s content. Menu buttons for the tools are displayed on the right side of the homepage, including myRecords and several calculators. The homepage highlights featured FAQs, recent discussions, and “ask the expert” Q&A. There are also links to free quizzes that offer interactive multiple-choice questions, including connections to pertinent articles and FAQs.

Free Features

The articles, FAQs, and tax center are organized under the topics presented on the third horizontal menu bar. The left side of each topical page serves as an index for that section. The center of each page provides a brief introduction to the topic, a list of articles with short descriptions, and a list of FAQs. The right side of the page links featured FAQs on that subject.

Many articles contain links to other resources on the website, as well as to outside materials. Sources include articles written for MSO, major newspapers and news magazines, investment-related websites, and the IRS. The articles’ webpages include options for e-mailing and printing. Current newsletters are sent via e-mail; however, archived newsletters can be found on the MSO website.

Two features allow users to pose questions, as well as to read questions and answers from other users. “Ask the experts” provides an e-mail link for users to send their questions to MSO staff. Users can also participate in the discussion forums, contributing on existing topics or creating new discussion threads.

MyRecords is found on the main menu bar and the right-side tools index on the homepage. It allows users to keep track of stock grant information in a spreadsheet format, create graphs, export data, and print. The “quick-take” calculator can import data from myRecords in order to model increases and decreases in stock prices and tax rates. The glossary can be accessed from the top main menu bar or links throughout the website.


Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is a professor of accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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