Angus financial advisory firm 'breaks the mould' by becoming entirely staff owned

An Angus financial services firm has gone against the sector norm and become entirely employee owned.

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

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

The trust will take on full ownership, securing the future of the business which looks after some £100 million of assets on behalf of its clients.

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Co-founder Roy Gill said he had not contemplated selling the firm to a larger rival, despite receiving several approaches from prospective buyers.

Gill, who along with his wife Lesley launched the business 20 years ago, 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.

“The brand has been built up through hard work – and that’s a precious thing.

“More often than not IFAs [independent financial advisers] 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 began a couple of years ago, when Gill appointed Stephen Bain, an experienced financial adviser able to step into a senior role, supported by Gill’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 at the firm, alongside Bain and Tayler, while client service manager Bev Waterson will become the trustee responsible for representing all employees. The firm is also supported by administrator Lorraine Sutton.

Roy and Lesley will remain with the business until the handover takes place over the next three to four years, with Roy taking a “less active role”.

The firm’s move to employee ownership was enabled by Stirling-based specialist consultancy Ownership Associates.

Carole Leslie, Ownership Associates’ founder, 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.

“We’re seeing throughout Scotland a growing realisation that here is a better way to structure business, especially in these challenging times.

“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: “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.”

Within Scotland, there are now some 120 employee-owned companies operating, with about 7,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of almost £1 billion.

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