Moose you are off on this one.  The person exercising stock options generally does not have to cover, pre-exercise, the amount of the strike price until after the options are exercised.  And that is only necessary when exercising the option to acquire shares rather than exercising to obtain the difference between strike and market price by selling the shares upon exercise.  The exerciser of options can use any broker to accomplish the trade and many companys automate the process for their employees by using the services of third party, internet accessible platforms.  So the only risk borne by the holder of options is that they expire worthless.  This one is from personal experience at more than one company.