Image for Julia Jeyes, Co-Founder of Grafton Banks Finance Limited announces new ownership status

Julia Jeyes, Co-Founder of Grafton Banks Finance Limited announces new ownership status

16th June 2022

Nigel, Alex and I are delighted to share the news that just before Christmas 2021 we completed on the creation of an Employee Ownership Trust for the benefit of Grafton Banks employees.

What is an EOT?

Very simply, an EOT is a business model where all employees of the business have a stake and share in the profits of that business, as well as a say in its future direction. It is basically an ‘off the shelf’ version of the John Lewis Partnership model, scaled down for smaller businesses.

Nigel Jeyes, Julia Jeyes and Alex Gregory, founders of Grafton Banks Finance

Why have we done this?

We have always run Grafton Banks Finance as a family business and many of our consultants have worked for us for the majority of their recruitment career. We have always offered flexible working and built our business around family life. The EOT model allowed us to make all of our employees a part of the future business and its continued success.

Over the past 15 years we have worked very hard to preserve our integrity and our reputation. There have been some very tough times in the last few years, for us; our employees, clients and candidates. We like to think we have looked after everyone as best we can.

In return we have experienced a huge amount of loyalty from our employees but also from our clients and candidates. The pandemic period really put this into sharp focus for us - clearly this was a major commercial disruption and was incredibly stressful and worrying. In the early days of the pandemic we were on a real knife edge as to whether our business would survive.

As owners we fought tooth and nail to keep the business going - we begged and borrowed, deferred payments and cut costs. As a business we regrouped and adapted. We came through, and have had a remarkable 2021, putting us back on an even keel and allowing us to look forward to 2022 which is proving to continue to be busy.

Nigel, Alex and I very strongly felt that having been through the stress and upset of trading in a pandemic together, we wanted to reward together and make everyone feel a real sense of pride, ownership and responsibility for the success of the future of Grafton Banks Finance.

More than ever it became important to us to preserve our way of working into the future for our employees.

So, in December 2021 we changed the way our business was owned – we became an Employee Ownership Trust. Our culture at Grafton Banks had already mirrored that of the EOT model and that has now been formalised. I am sure that none of our clients and candidates would guess we are now an EOT. And that’s what we wanted – business as usual.

We also wanted the business to continue to be in the hands of the people who know it best and those are our employees. Every consultant is now a truly intrinsic part of the Grafton Banks business, everyone works together to best support our clients and candidates. This is OUR company – a proper family business. We are doing this because we really love what we do and we don’t want to stop. We wanted to safeguard the legacy of what Grafton Banks Finance has built over the years.

How is it going?

There are lots of statistics surrounding the success of EOTs in terms of productivity and profitability, but what we have really found in the first six months of our new trading status is how much everyone seems to enjoy being part of the business. They have particularly enjoyed the first pay out of profits as part of the EOT!

Ryan Leggett, Manager of the Kent office of Grafton Banks Finance says ‘we are a close-knit business, and this move has brought us closer together; it has engendered a fierce team ethic’

He adds ‘It is great to know that the company will remain in the hands of the people who make it so special’

Jack Schilling, consultant says ‘being part of an employee ownership trust is a huge deal for all of us. It makes me incredibly proud to work with people who are committed to ensuring everyone has an equal voice’

Jack adds ‘It has provided an added incentive to engage as a collective, knowing that ‘we are the company’’.

Nigel, Alex and I want the business to continue to be in the hands of the people who know it best and those are our employees. It is early days for the EOT but everyone feels motivated and valued and positive about the future of Grafton Banks Finance, and of their part in that future.

We can continue doing our Grafton Banks thing and enjoying being the leading Accountancy Consultancy in the South-East. Grafton Banks continues to grow and have recently recruited new employees to our team.

A note from the Employee Ownership Association (EOA)

Following our transition, we joined the EOA as members and hope this will help further bring employee ownership to life at Grafton Banks.

Employee ownership is one of the fastest growing business succession solutions in the UK, where there are now more than 800 employee-owned businesses – with more than 300 of those having transitioned since 2020.

The fast pace of growth amongst businesses has taken off with the use of the employee ownership trust (EOT), introduced by the government in 2014 to encourage long-term employee ownership, and one in every 20 private company sales is now to an EOT, with Grafton Banks joining a network of EOTs in the UK that include Richer Sounds and Go Ape.

James de le Vingne, Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), said: “We congratulate our members Grafton Banks on its transition to employee ownership; securing the ethos, values and culture of the business, as well as rooting jobs in the South-East.

“Businesses that give employees a stake and a say build trust and shared responsibility, uniting leaders and employees behind a common purpose, and leaving businesses in a better position to flex and adapt.”

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