A new partnership events programme, Selling a Business to an Employee Ownership Trust, will raise awareness of employee ownership among professional advisers.
The Law Society of Scotland, the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS) and Co-operative Development Scotland have joined forces to host the roadshow, to be held across Scotland in May and June.
It will target members of the legal, accounting and banking professions, who play an important role in informing clients about employee ownership as a business succession model. The events also aim to increase the number of firms that are able to offer specialist guidance.
Sarah Deas, director of CDS, an arm of Scottish Enterprise, said: “Promoting employee ownership helps drive growth in the economy and create greater wealth equality in society.
“Our partnership with the Law Society of Scotland and ICAS will enable us to raise professional advisers’ awareness of the advantages of this model of business succession. And increasing the number of firms which are able to offer in-depth specialist guidance on employee ownership to their clients will greatly benefit businesses all over Scotland.”
Alison Atack, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Employee-owned organisations have proven highly successful in recent years and were particularly resilient during and following the economic downturn, with research showing that employee-owned firms outperformed similar companies and achieved higher sales turnover and maintained higher employee numbers.
“For any business, getting the right advice is essential. We want to ensure that as professional advisers, Scottish solicitors understand the particular needs of employee-owned businesses, as well as any specific challenges they face, and can provide the advice and support to help them thrive in the long term.”
Bernard Dunn, ICAS council member, added: “We welcome the opportunity to raise awareness across accountants and advisers of employee ownership as a potential business structure, particularly in the context of a vision for a fairer society, enhanced shareholder rights and moderation of executive pay.
“Ultimately, a business needs to choose the model, which helps it achieve its objectives and best fits its culture. It is important that advisers are well placed to inform employees on both the risks and opportunities so they can make the right decision for their business.”
Under the employee ownership structure, employees must have a financial stake in the business and a say in how it’s run. Employee owned firms may operate as co-operatives.
The structure also enables companies to make tax-free payments to their employees, which are currently restricted to £3,600 per tax year.