Why we resisted a trade sale to transition to employee ownership | Guest blog by Chartered Financial Planners Grierson Dickens

Guest blog by Surrey-based Chartered Financial Planning firm Grierson Dickens Limited (GDL), which transitioned to employee ownership on 1 March 2023, via an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

Over the last 24 years, we have built many lasting relationships with clients and professionals; we are incredibly proud of the business we have grown, and the talent we have nurtured.

For several years now, a focus of ours has been to prepare for the long-term future of GDL, and we have considered many options. At the heart of our decision, as it has always been, is doing what is best for our clients and employees, whilst protecting the long-term viability of the business.

Our hourly fee-based model for financial planning advice remains unusual in the financial advice industry. We are proud of the transparency of this fee model and the way in which it allows us to be impartial in advising clients. Our approach enables us to tackle the work that clients want us to do, to deliver a first-class service, to build relationships, act as a strategic partner, and ultimately take action to get things done. This is a proposition we fiercely defend.

We have resisted the route of a trade sale to a larger organisation, fearing that this might have dismantled the culture and ethos that we have created, removed our ability to provide a personal service to our clients, and disrupted the intergenerational planning which we have put in place for many families.

Employee ownership fits our culture

The EOT framework lends itself well to our business; it ensures that our employees are genuine partners in the business, and that our successors, who are already responsible for so many of the accomplishments of GDL, can become the custodians of our proposition.

Businesses which move to employee ownership are renowned for having a family-like, open, collaborative culture, characterised by client focus, innovation, independence from corporate control, and a sense of social responsibility. We have always sought to adopt this kind of culture in the business, encouraging every employee to have a voice, to contribute new ideas and to influence the future direction of the business for mutual benefit.

Whilst becoming an EOT is a structural change, clients can be assured of ‘business as usual’. For now, the existing management team will remain the same, with directors James Dickens and Jo Ranger’s management responsibilities gradually being handed over to Greg Parker, Ben Kemmish, Tim Hudson, and Olivia Jennings, securing the long-term future of GDL.

James plans to continue to do what he enjoys most: engaging with and advising clients, working with like-minded professionals, and supporting the GDL team for several years to come.

As we enter the next company year, and this new chapter, we are excited for the future of GDL, look forward to continued success, and thank everyone very much for their support.

Related Articles

What is employee ownership?

EOA Podcast: Episode 8: Reaping the benefits of the decision to become EO – member case studies

‘Seek invaluable advice from like-minded businesses before you transition to employee ownership’ | Horizon Platforms case study

What swung it for Go Ape to realise employee ownership was the right path to safeguard its ‘very unique’ culture?

‘Give employees time to understand what becoming employee-owned means for them’ | Ovation Finance guest blog