Co-operative Development Scotland – legislative changes accelerate interest in
Employee Ownership

A talk by Graeme Nuttall at Ernst & Young, Glasgow to raise awareness amongst Scotland’s professional advisers of Employee Ownership

  1. Good for the economy
  • I wish to share with you what Employee Ownership can do for a business, those who work in that business and the wider community and economy.
  • Employee Ownership is demonstrably good for the economy. It is good for a business, good for those who work in that business, good for its customers or patients and in many cases beneficial to the wider community.
  1. A level headed choice
  • As professional advisers your job is to remain dispassionate and to advise level headedly on what is the best course of action. You need to understand all the options available to a client. In many business situations this means considering Employee Ownership (EO).  EO works at every stage of the business life cycle, across companies of all sizes and in all sectors.  And there have been significant legislative changes in relation to EO, concerning employee trusts and share buy backs, that have accelerated interest in EO.
  1. Fieldfisher statistics
  • Since October 2014 my firm has advised on various employee buy-outs that have seen the transfer of many Tens of millions of capital into employee ownership. This wealth is now held by or on behalf of over 4,000 employees instead of the original 50 or so shareholders in their employing companies. This is a significant spreading of wealth from the few to the many.
  • By Employee Ownership I mean situations in which all employees now own a significant stake in their business and where that stake underpins their engagement in that business, not simply employee financial participation plans for a few senior executives or even all employee financial participation.
  1. Role of professionals
  • My main message is that all of you as professional advisers can make a profound difference to the development of EO.
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales was one of the first professional bodies to get behind the last UK government’s drive to make Employee Ownership a mainstream business model. It hosted the launch of the Nuttall Review on 4 July 2012 and more recently provided the venue for Sir Charlie Mayfield’s thought provoking 2015 Robert Oakeshott lecture.
  • Thank you to our hosts today, Ernst & Young.
  • I am delighted that the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland published Carole Leslie’s article “Employee Ownership: adding trust” to help promote this seminar.
  1. Carole Leslie
  • Few know this but Carole was one of the three people present when the Nuttall Review was conceived. On 14 December 2011 Carole (then policy adviser at the Employee Ownership Association) Neil Spring (then senior external communications manager at John Lewis Partnership) and I met at Fieldfisher’s offices to discuss what we could ask the Coalition Government to do to promote the growth of EO. We came up with the idea of a commission to report on the state of EO in the UK.  That idea metamorphosed into the Nuttall Review.  It is great to have this opportunity to thank Carole for her pivotal role in instigating the Nuttall Review.
  1. Scotland
  • I also wish to take this opportunity to thank all those in Scotland who got behind the Nuttall Review. It was important to have the support of Sarah Deas, chief executive of Co-operative Development Scotland, and of many of others from the Scottish Employee Ownership community, including Scottish politicians.
  • The Glasgow branch of the Co-operative Party organised an event as part of the International Year of Co-operatives on 31 May 2012 which helped me test my ideas on the use of employee trusts for Employee Ownership.
  • I was appointed to my part-time role as a voluntary adviser to the Government on EO in February 2012. I was charged with explaining why EO was not mainstream and to come up with recommendations to make it mainstream. The small civil service team guiding me made it clear I needed evidence to support my recommendations and so we consulted.
  • As professional advisers you will be well aware of the tax advantaged share plans that exist to enable employees to acquire shares tax efficiently. These have existed since 1978. One of the themes of the Nuttall Review was to give greater priority to the employee trust method of Employee Ownership.  This is the idea that an employee trust holds shares on behalf of employees without making individual allocations to employees.  This simplifies the operation of Employee Ownership enabling employees to leave and join without the complications of buying and selling shares.  My visit to Glasgow in May 2012 allowed me to take soundings on the idea of giving a strong emphasis to employee trust ownership in the Nuttall Review.
  1. Before the Nuttall Review
  • Before the Nuttall Review if a client asked a professional adviser about a succession solution for their business, in England at least, it is unlikely that EO would get mentioned. If it did, the adviser would no doubt say it was not the best option and if a client persevered they would say it was difficult to achieve. This reaction was because of a fundamental lack of awareness of EO, the lack of resources to implement EO and a perception of its complexity.
  • The Employee Ownership Association provided a much needed drive to promote EO nationally, launching a successful brand for UK EO, on EO Day in 2013, and has made EO Day an annual event, as well as pulling together a calendar of EO events.
  • Given the publicity over recent years for EO, from the government, from sector bodies, from EO companies themselves (particularly on EO Day), from professional bodies and journals and many others the answer to this question about succession solutions should be very different now.
  1. After the Nuttall Review
  • I would expect professional advisers now to say, yes, we know about Employee Ownership, we can help you to introduce it and, in comparison to a trade sale or listing, it is relatively straightforward and usually costs less.
  • It would now be professionally embarrassing not to mention an EBO, an employee buy-out, and, in particular, a sale to an employee trust as a possible exit. In HM Treasury’s response, after consulting on the new tax exemptions to promote Employee Ownership, it said:
    • “…awareness of indirect EO structures [that is trust ownership] is currently relatively low. Once the Capital Gains Tax exemption has been introduced, tax advisers will be obliged to mention that a sale of shares giving control of a qualifying company to an [Employee Ownership trust] may entitle sellers to exemption from CGT”.
  1. EOT tax exemptions
  • There are two important new tax exemptions to encourage employee trust ownership:
    • from 6 April 2014 there is an exemption from CGT on gains on certain disposals of shares in a trading company (or in a holding company of a trading group) that provides an Employee Ownership Trust (an EOT) with a controlling interest in that company; and
    • from 1 October 2014 there is an exemption from Income Tax (but not National Insurance contributions) of £3,600 per employee per tax year for certain bonus payments made to all employees of a company or group where an EOT has a controlling interest.
  • The CGT exemption has attracted attention to employee buy outs as a succession solution. Instead of a sale of shares being taxed typically, for owner managers, at an effective rate of 10% after entrepreneurs’ relief, there is an unlimited exemption from CGT.
  • In contrast to entrepreneurs relief there are relatively few qualifying requirements on the part of the vendor. The exemption does not apply to companies and needs to be claimed but apart from this it is generally available.
  • The Income Tax exemption means there can also be a tax benefit for staff in this business model. In most cases the dividends otherwise payable to the EOT as a majority shareholder are waived by its trustee and are paid out instead as bonuses to all staff – tax free up to £3,600 per employee per tax year.
  • This is a key concept – instead of external shareholders receiving dividends and any staff bonuses being paid simply at the discretion of a board of directors out of funds they decide are available, the EOT model provides staff with an economic stake.
  • The details of these Income Tax exemptions are set out in Schedule 37 of the Finance Act 2014 which implemented the new provisions in the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 and in the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions Act) 2003.
  1. Share buybacks
  • The Nuttall Review also delivered changes to help direct Employee Ownership. My research in Europe showed how UK company law was out of step with the flexibility available in most other European countries regarding share buybacks. The Companies Act 2006 was changed from 30 April 2013 to make share buybacks easier.  There are now fewer regulatory restrictions when buying in shares.  For example a private limited company may pay for shares in instalments when it is purchasing shares for the purposes of or pursuant to an employees’ share scheme.  Private companies may now hold shares in treasury. Instead of the complexity of running an internal share market through an employee trust it might work better, especially for basic rate tax paying staff, to buy in shares and cancel them or hold them in treasury.
  1. Business before tax
  • In my experience tax is not the main driver towards Employee Ownership. This is partly why the Nuttall Review focussed on non-tax changes.
  • Previous attempts to promote EO through tax changes have failed. A decision that took courage was to recognise this and to press strongly to raise awareness of EO first, and then follow this up with tax changes.
  • It is vital that the business case for Employee Ownership gets priority attention.
  • Tax can then play a key role in providing the final prompt towards taking action.
  • Recent research by the Chartered Management Institute or CMI into why managers make decisions shows that the worst way to effect change is through regulation. Reason and care are more important ethics in decision making than obedience.
  1. Neat exit
  • Employee Ownership scores well as a succession solution. It is something that now gets considered naturally by many owners. An EBO has a number of attractions:
    • the terms of the EBO are to a great extent within the owner’s control. Owners can plan in advance as to when and how the EBO occurs.  This is a major advantage over most other forms of exit;
    • EBOs have a good record of succeeding. This is important if there is any deferred consideration.  And most founders want to see their business survive and prosper;
    • an EBO avoids some of the difficulties that arise with other forms of exit. It avoids for example the commercial risk of disclosing confidential information to potential trade buyers; and
    • EBOs can be wholly self-funded. Accumulated cash can be given to the EOT by the business and the vendor can agree deferred payment terms for any balance. Bank financing can be used to accelerate payment
  • Some owners prefer an EBO because:
    • an EBO is a way of recognising the contribution employees have made to the success of that business;
    • continuity of the business can be achieved for customers and suppliers;
    • the way the business is carried on, its ethos, is more likely to continue intact; and
    • it can avoid the dismissal of employees or the closure of premises that often occurs following a trade sale.

85% of Stewart Buchanan Gauges staff live within 5 miles of the company in Kilsyth. That would have changed with a trade sale instead of an EBO.

  1. Three models
  • There are essentially three basic models of EO:
    • 100% Trust Ownership
    • This is the well known John Lewis Partnership model. In Scotland, Page\Park Architects, recently awarded the contract to restore the world famous Glasgow School of Art building, adopted the 100% Trust model.
    • Direct Employee Ownership
    • This is the approach adopted by the 1200 or so staff at City Healthcare Partnership CIC in Hull; and
    • a hybrid model in which a trust typically holds a controlling interest with direct Employee Ownership operating alongside;

This is the model adopted by Wilkin & Sons Limited, the Tiptree jam makers.  Stewart Buchanan Gauges operate the hybrid model of employee ownership.

  1. Owners’ reasons
  • The flexibility of the EO business model adds to its strength. Each business can choose what is right for how that business works and in particular whether direct share ownership, trust ownership or a mix is the best way to achieve what is wanted.
  • As a general rule owners know instinctively which is the right model for their business.
  • Former owners highlight some consistent themes when discussing why they chose EO:
    • The then owner of Stewart Buchanan Gauges, Frank Phair, had received several overseas offers to buy the business. By choosing employee ownership, Frank was able to guarantee, to some extent, that the business would remain in the local area, providing jobs for local people.
    • Dick Philbrick, of East Kilbride based Clansman Dynamics had also received several offers for his firm. However, he was keen to maintain the legacy of Scottish engineering excellence and sought out a succession solution that protected and promoted these skills.
    • West Highland Free Press has a long tradition of independent voice and views. When the shareholders wanted to exit, the title attracted considerable interest from mainstream publishers.  The employees knew this would dilute what the paper stood for, and put together their own bid to buy the business.
    • Nick Boyle, of Highland Home Carers, had set up the business to ensure that the elderly and vulnerable of the Highlands could choose to remain in their own home as long as it was possible. He was reluctant to sell the firm to a competitor who might not adhere to the company’s original values. Instead, he sold the firm to the employees.
    • Alan Davidson, founder of Hayes Davidson explained that the change to Employee Ownership:

“Reinforces the truly collaborative nature of a professional architectural visualisation studio.  Employee Ownership reflects many of the important values held at Hayes Davidson; of partnership, transparency and mutual support.”

  • David Hodgkinson, the founder and former major shareholder at mathematical consultancy Quintessa said after the move to Employee Trust Ownership:
    • “We are delighted to have secured the future of the business … independence and longevity is key to delivering the service our clients want and the EOT business model is a perfect fit for our business.”
  • Malcolm Lee, managing director, founder and former major shareholder in insurance broker, Ten Insurance, said

“As an independent broker network it was vital that Ten Insurance secured an independent future.  By adopting the Trust Ownership model, the long-term future of the business has been secured for its broker members in a way which allows all employees to share in the success of the organisation.”

  • As an example of the motivations behind a change to direct Employee Ownership, the chairman, David Hunter, at top ten architects Stride Treglown said:

“The culture of our practice has always been collaborative, so Employee Ownership was a logical step for us to take.  The transformation from a traditional architectural partnership into a 280 strong employee owned company is momentous but exciting … with every member of staff now having a commitment and share in the Company’s future, we are really looking forward to another 60 years of exceptional work for our clients.”

  • These explanations bring out some strong themes where Employee Ownership can help deliver the right ownership and governance model – mutual support, longevity, independence and employee commitment.
  1. All stages of the business lifecycle
  • I have emphasised Employee Ownership’s role as a neat succession solution. It also works in start-ups, as a means to create growth and innovation in an existing company and can work in business rescue situations.
  • The Mary Knowles Home Care Partnership was launched two years ago. David Chalk, its chairman said at its launch that:
    • “Our key difference is that we have Employee Ownership. Because our carers and office team own the business together with its founder, Dan Knowles, and have a say in how it’s run as well as a stake in its long-term success, we all have a vested interest in delivering the very best care in the industry. We are excited about the potential for this business model in the care industry.”
  • Dan Knowles has given a commitment to move to majority Employee Ownership. He started with 10% of the shares in a trust.
  • As a means to achieve growth the manufacturing business Gripple Limited is a well-known example. Sheffield based Gripple has a policy of all employees buying £1000 worth of shares (with a company loan to help employees afford this). This approach to Employee Ownership has helped the business grow.  Its policy is that 25% of sales should come from new products.  Attendance levels are better than the industry average and there is very much a culture of innovation at Gripple.
  • EO has also worked in business rescue situations. Staff have accepted changes in terms and conditions and sometimes invested redundancy pay in return for a stake in the rescued business.
  1. Sectors
  • Employee Ownership knows no sector boundaries, although there is a concentration of EO in professional and business services.
  • For example, EO works particularly well for architects practices. This is because typically they are established as limited liability companies, to limit professional liability, and therefore founders expect to realise a capital gain when retiring.
  • EO can break the challenging cyclical problem of buying out owners in successful practices at ever increasing prices. The legal profession’s partnership model provides stability because of its naked in naked out approach to life as a partner. Employee Ownership and in particular the employee trust model allows incorporated architectural practices to achieve the same stability.
  • But the success stories I have mentioned go much wider and cover manufacturing, insurance, retail, the care sector and many other sectors, including the public sector.
  1. Public service mutuals
  • Employee Ownership has had a major impact in revitalising the delivery of public services. There are now over 100 public service mutuals – where a public service is now delivered by an organisation in which employee control plays a significant role in its operation.
  1. All sizes of company
  • The White Rose Employee Ownership Centre is conducting research into employee owned companies. The White Rose Centre is currently examining 92 UK companies with Employee Ownership.
  • Generally speaking if there is all employee ownership of 25% or more of the equity, combined with employee engagement structures, then a company is accepted as one that has Employee Ownership. Its employees have a significant and meaningful stake in their business. This 25% or more definition is the one adopted by the White Rose Centre and by others, such as the Cabinet Office for public service mutuals purposes.
  • The White Rose Centre research shows Employee Ownership is found in all sizes of company. But when looking at staff numbers there appears to be an EO sweet spot of between 10 – 249 employees.
  1. All markets
  • The White Rose Research also confirms that Employee Owned companies operate in all kinds of market with an even spread between local, regional, national and international markets as a company’s main market. These are all competitive markets.
  1. Tried and tested
  • Employee Ownership is a tried and tested business model. In addition to long established success stories such as the John Lewis Partnership, Swann Morton, Scott Bader Commonwealth and Arup we have in each recent decade additional success stories.
  1. Serendipity
  • These pre-Nuttall Review examples of Employee Ownership success are typified by owners who either invented their own version of EO or had by chance worked at or with an Employee Ownership business. Serendipity no longer plays a part. Employee Ownership is out there in the business community and professional advisers must be ready to advise on EO.
  1. Research
  • The pioneers of EO introduced it because they believed it was right. Todays adopters of EO, in addition to the many success stories, have a bedrock of research to support their belief in EO.
  • Hopefully the Nuttall Review was the last official report that needed to include a summary of business case. One of the outcomes of the Nuttall Review is, I believe, that the essential business case is now taken as read.
  • The Nuttall Review found six strong themes in academic research. Four of these emphasise the better business outcomes of EO:
    • better business performance;
    • increased economic resilience;
    • greater employee commitment and engagement; and
    • improved innovation.
  • In addition what is particularly important is that these better business outcomes areachieved alongside promoting happier staff as evidenced by:
    • enhanced employee wellbeing; and
    • reduced absenteeism.
  1. Listed companies
  • No one quotes statistics when advising on a trade sale or a listing as an exit solution. Probably because the statistics are discouraging.
  • Paul Polman CEO of Unilever has spoken often about the short termism of listed companies and the need for a fundamental change in their approach to doing business. He has spoken about the short average lifespan of a public listed company and the need for a different business model.
  1. Private company research
  • In private companies the EO evidence of doing business differently is impressive.
    • Most aim higher than 25%

Although 25% or more all Employee Ownership is usually accepted as the benchmark for having Employee Ownership, actually most supporters of EO aim for 100%.  The companies surveyed by the White Rose Centre have an average Employee Ownership of 86%, and over half of these are 100% employee owned.

  • A very high standard of information provision

Essentially pretty much all these companies provide information to all employees on a wide range of matters such as:

  • the business’ financial position,
  • investment plans,
  • board decisions, and
  • staffing plans
  • and they do this at least once a year, and almost all actually provide this information several times a year. This compares to the national average of 60% regularly providing some financial information – a statistic from the Workforce Employment Study 2011.
    • A high standard of employee representation
  • Half of the companies with Employee Ownership have employee representatives on the board and just over half have:
    • regular meetings of employee shareholders,
    • regularly use suggestion schemes, and
    • problem solving groups,
  • and 70% have “meet the CEO” style meetings several times a year.
  • This compares to only a quarter of British private sector workplaces who use a suggestion scheme or 13% that have problem solving groups.
    • Driving innovation
  • The White Rose Research also supports Gripple’s belief and Woolard & Henry in Employee Ownership as a driver of innovation. Just over two thirds of EO companies had introduced technically new or significantly improved products or services in the last two years compared to only a third according to the 2011 Workforce Study.
    • Financial rewards in addition to pay
  • The Employee Ownership stake usually means additional financial rewards for staff delivered by virtue of the business model itself. The White Rose Centre Research showed that in 61% of cases employees received a share of profits in the last 12 months and one third of companies say they pay higher salaries.
  • In one company where I am non-executive chairman of a trustee company, in what is a tight margin business, the profit share has doubled since its move to Employee Ownership from family ownership. The family were considered good employers but since moving to majority ownership the average gross discretionary bonus, has doubled. And in 2014 the bonus was Income Tax free as a result of the Income Tax exemption for Employee Ownership trust controlled companies which meant the net amount was 2.7 times higher than the historic bonus under family ownership.
    • Better financial performance
  • The way of doing business is clearly different in companies with Employee Ownership. But what about business performance? Does the sometimes more time consuming collaborative approach to managing a business have an adverse impact on performance?  The White Rose Research reveals that:
    • 54% say their company performs better financially than other firms in their industry; and
    • 62% say labour productivity is better than the average for their industry.
  • The indications are that this is because of Employee Ownership:
    • over half report better financial performance and better labour productivity since introducing employee ownership.
  • We all know the economic difficulties of the last few years. We know that many statistical differences are marginal. This, admittedly self-reported, data look good and is reassuring to former owners who want to see their businesses succeed under new ownership or are relying on an instalment payment under the terms of their employee buyout.
    • Employee Ownership Top 50
  • A consultancy, Capital Strategies, has provided some helpful objective analysis of financial success. It has compiled the Employee Ownership top 50 of UK unquoted companies. These have combined sales of over £20 billion.  Surveyed in June 2014 an analysis of their latest accounts as filed at Companies House completely tallies with the White Rose Centre Research:
    • the combined operating profit (EBITDA) of these companies was £1.1 billion, a staggering increase of 5% year on year;
    • value added per employee was £47,000 and increased by 5% year on year. In contrast productivity in the UK economy at that time was flat.
  • These increases were not as a result of a decrease in staff numbers across the board. The combined workforce of the Top 50 was 151,000, and employee numbers increased by 3% year on year.
  1. Increasingly wider benefits
  • Increasingly there is evidence of the wider benefits of Employee Ownership – to customers, patients and the community as a whole. David Erdal was chairman of Tullis Russell and designed and led their employee buyout, completed in 1994. He was the first I heard speak in depth about the wider beneficial effects of EO.  These were the results of his PhD which concluded that if you want to be happy, live in a town with lots of Employee Ownership.  Imola, in Northern Italy, with 26% employee owners was better in all five areas examined: health, education, crime, social participation and perception of the social environment.
  • Some EO companies have community benefit built into their structure. There is a community interest company monoculture in public service mutuals. Most have adopted statutory asset locks to ensure they act for the benefit of the wider community.  City Health Care Partnership CIC in Hull has grown its social return on investment from £2.30 per pound when it started in 2010/11 to £33 per pound in 2013/14.
  • But typically wider benefits are not hardwired in this way into an EO company’s constitution. Nevertheless customers benefit. As already mentioned, over two thirds of the White Rose Centre companies surveyed said they had introduced technically new or improved services.  John Lewis has won the title of the nation’s best retailer 10 times in 15 years.
  • I mentioned the CMI research into the ethics of decision making. An October 2014 CMI report on the moral DNA of performance showed a correlation between better ethical scores and better business performance. There was a positive correlation between higher scores on business ethics and good customer satisfaction scores.  There was also a strong link between different types of business model and the ethical behaviour of a business.  The highest ethical scores were given by managers in co-operatives and professional partnerships – in other words businesses where there is either actual ownership or a perception of ownership by managers.  If an ownership stake helps managers make a business succeed, why not extend that to all employees?

This research suggests what most EO companies know instinctively that good employee engagement and better business performance go hand in hand with the right business structure; one in which employees have a significant and meaningful stake.

  1. Range of business models
  • No one is suggesting that every business should change to Employee Ownership. I believe a key reason for the lack of awareness of EO has been a fixation on a narrow range of business models – probably as a result of over simplified professional training. If a business is involved in social enterprise the typical expectation is that that business must be a charity or, more recently, a CIC; and if it is a private company then the PLC monoculture prevails.  This is the idea that success means building up a company so it can be taken over and eventually listed.  There are increasingly regular calls for a greater diversity of business models, which should include Employee Ownership.
  1. The health of EO
  • The Nuttall Review one year on report published by BIS in October 2013 contained my Employee Ownership health check – a list of questions derived from the Nuttall Review to assess how well EO is doing in an economy.
    • Is the meaning of EO sufficiently clear?
    • I believe it is. There are still journalists who refer to EO when they actually mean executive share plans or even all employee financial participation. But generally speaking the business community now knows what is meant by Employee Ownership.
    • Does the expertise and experience exist among professional advisers and more generally across the business community to support Employee Ownership?
    • Increasingly, yes. With every new employee buyout more professionals, banks and others in the business community get to know and understand Employee Ownership.
    • There are still incredible gaps in awareness. More needs to be done to raise awareness but most conversations now are around “how best to make EO work” rather than “what is EO”?
    • Are the benefits of EO understood and are they demonstrated by success stories backed up by research?
    • Yes, there is always the need for more research to provide extra detail but I believe the benefits are increasingly understood.
    • Are there practical toolkits to implement all forms of Employee Ownership?
    • The Nuttall Review helped redress the balance and promote the trust model of Employee Ownership alongside direct Employee Ownership and to give it tax breaks to put it on a par with those available for direct Employee Ownership.
    • BIS has published precedent documents for employee owned companies and trustee companies. These pre-date the recent tax changes but legal support services are updating their precedents.
    • Is there government support for Employee Ownership backed up by incentives and commitments to remove obstacles?
    • Yes, there has been major unprecedented support from the Coalition government. No previous government has backed Employee Ownership in this way. There are promising signs that whatever the composition of the next government there will continue to be all party support for Employee Ownership.  There is unfinished business from the Nuttall Review and it would be good to see the next government work with the Employee Ownership sector to finish the job started by the Nuttall Review.
    • Do we have the necessary champions of Employee Ownership?
    • You certainly have in Scotland.
    • Can we measure success?
    • Yes, success is being measured by the growth of the Employee Ownership sector.
  1. Conclusion
  • I have shared with what Employee Ownership can do for business, those who work in that business and the wider community and economy.
  • Introducing Employee Ownership, at its simplest, involves moving shares from where they are currently owned into the hands of either or both employees or employee trustees. As professional advisers you know how to deal with the transfer of ownership of companies. What I am encouraging is the idea that a sale to all of a company’s employees is considered as an alternative to more traditional forms of exit, and that EO is considered at other stages in the business lifecycle
  • What is great about EO is you can be completely rational and impartial as an adviser and yet still trigger heart-warming reactions from former owners, from newly empowered employees and from grateful customers and patients, even grateful civil servants and politicians.
  • As an adviser you may take pleasure in a job well done but what I particularly enjoy is that it is a job that lasts. The average life of a Standard & Poor’s listed company was some 60 years in 1958, around 30 years in the 1970s and was down to 15 years by 2014. Obviously businesses have to evolve and markets change but I like the idea that companies I help convert to Employee Ownership are still in existence, in contrast to their competitors.
  • Obviously you can simply advise but part of the fun of Employee Ownership is the extra engagement you get from the client and from its employees. Employee Ownership needs more champions and I trust that the existing local heroes in the room will continue to promote Employee Ownership and that those who have not previously got involved with Employee Ownership will get the chance over the coming months and years, if not next week. It’s a small world.  I am confident that all of you will spot an opportunity in the near future where Employee Ownership could be just what a company needs.

Thank you.

Graeme Nuttall OBE
Fieldfisher, London