Lifeware is a Swiss public limited company based in Ticino and is a provider of a fully integrated, web-based solution for the management of life insurance products. Lifeware’s customers include leading insurance groups, who successfully run their business with the highly innovative and sophisticated solutions. With the help of digital shares, the founders initiated the process of handing over the company to the to the next generation. With the help of an employee stock ownership plan the employees are actively involved in the success of the company. We spoke with Daniele Doninelli, CFO of Lifeware SA, to find out how they use Aequitec software to manage their shares.
How did you originally maintain your stock ledger?
Since the Company’s inception in 1998, we issued physical, numbered share certificates, which were deposited in the Company’s vault. A tabular listing was signed by the Board of Directors in each case. With just under 10 shareholders, this was manageable, especially since there were no sharetransfers.
How has Aequitec helped you as a share registry provider?
Together with our bank, we discussed the possibilities of passing the company on to the next generation and developed an attractive employee participation plan. It quickly became clear that shares would have to be transferred more frequently and that they would have to be in bank custody accounts. This is where Aequitec came in with an innovative software solution for non-listed companies. Employees can book Lifeware shares into their bank deposits. This strengthens their bond to the company.
What convinced you to hand over the company to the next generation?
The founders of the company are not getting any younger. At the same time, however, it is important to each of the founders to hand over the company carefully to the employees. Over a period of 5 years, the founders will transfer up to 20 percent of the shares to the employees as part of their profit-sharing plan. In this way we can both, keep the excellent expertise in the company, as well as to preserve our family corporate culture.
What are the challenges of maintaining the share register in general?
One challenge is certainly to make all the preparations to migrate from an Excel spreadsheet to a professional solution. Especially the early involvement tax authorities is important, in order to determine the tax value of the shares so that it can be correctly shown in the Aequitec platform as well as in the respective securities accounts of the shareholders’ securities accounts.
Can you recall an “aha” moment with Aequitec?
After successfully migrating to the Aequitec platform, I was surprised to find that we can also conduct general meetings electronically as well. As a software company, we have a certain affinity for digital solutions, especially since we have a shareholder in a distant foreign country. We will certainly try that out.
What would you advise or recommend to companies considering Aequitec?
The migration to a professional share register has worked very well, especially because the collaboration between our house bank and Aequitec was very well coordinated. It therefore makes sense to involve the respective house bank and Aequitec in the outlining of the plans for the company’s succession.