Financial advisory consultancy first in its sector in Scotland to enter employee ownership

by Chris Fairbairn

Monday, December 7th, 2020

Gill Financial become first Scottish employee owned firm in the sector

Professional PR photography group shot of staff at Gill Financial, Ownership Associates UK

A FINANCIAL services firm has “broken the mould” by becoming the first Scottish business in its sector to become entirely employee owned. 

All shares of Montrose-based Gill Financial have now been placed into an employee ownership trust (EOT), with all seven staff becoming direct beneficiaries of the partnership.

The trust will take on full ownership immediately, securing the future of the company which looks after £100million of assets for its clients.

The move is the vision of founder Roy Gill, who at no point contemplated selling the firm to a larger rival, despite receiving multiple emails most weeks from prospective buyers.

Roy and his wife Lesley who launched the business in 2000, said: “This move is about the brilliant team here and our clients first and foremost. A business does not exist without clients and we need to look after them before anyone else”

“An acquisition would have put so much at risk – and I hated the thought of that. For a start I didn’t want any of our staff’s futures put into uncertainty, or for the culture to change so significantly they felt forced to leave.

“Likewise, we know we deliver great value for our clients across Pensions, Investment and Mortgage advice. The brand has been built up through hard work – and that’s a precious thing.

“More often than not IFAs are swallowed up by consolidators, with customers seeing increased fees and Staff adapting to new ways of working. We had to break the mould.”

The journey to becoming employee-owned started a couple of years ago, when Roy appointed Stephen Bain, a qualified and experienced Financial Adviser able to step into a senior role, supported by Roy’s son Tayler, who joined in 2017 and should finish his Financial qualifications in 2021

Laura Rose who works as an in-house Mortgage Adviser will become a Director, alongside Stephen and Tayler, while Client Service Manager, Bev Waterson will also become the Trustee responsible for representing all employees and the firm is also supported by Administrator Lorraine Sutton.

In time, all employees will benefit from a share of any profits. Roy and Lesley will remain with the company until the hand over takes place over the next three to four years, with Roy taking a less active role in the business while still passing on his knowledge and guidance.

Gill Financial’s bold step to become employee-owned was enabled by Stirling-based Ownership Associates, a specialist consultancy that takes companies through each step of the journey, including legal, regulatory, financial and business advisory guidance, working closely with associates and suppliers.

Carole Leslie, Ownership Associates’ founder, believes Gill Financial’s move highlights how broad the appeal of an EOT is.

She said: “Helping a company like Gill Financial through the process is what we enjoy working for – and we’re thrilled to achieve a real milestone with them as the first firm in their space to do it.

“Founders like Roy should take huge amounts of pride in what they build – and it makes full sense to pass that to the team that helped them achieve it.

“We’re seeing throughout Scotland a growing realisation that there is a better way to structure business, especially in these challenging times, the huge boost in togetherness, team working and efficiency savings that have resulted from employee owned firms pulling through.

“Despite the turbulence, demand for our services is growing rapidly – and we fully believe that firms taking stock during and after the pandemic will see the benefits of employee ownership in even sharper focus.”

The deal was further supported through legal advice provided by Lindsays Solicitors and accountancy guidance by MMG Archbold.

Douglas Roberts, Director with Lindsays, said: “It was a pleasure to help Roy and the team at Gill Financial in their move to employee ownership. Working with Ownership Associates is always a great experience given their experience and they made the transition very smooth.

“Gill Financial now has a secure and bright future and their customers have the comfort that the culture and standards of the company will remain the same.”

For more information on Gill Financial, please visit: www.gfsmontrose.com

For more information on Ownership Associates, please visit: https://ownershipassociates.co.uk/

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    Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

    Chris Fairbairn

    Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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