Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs): Creating a Legacy of Collective Success

10 January 2024 | 5 min read

In the evolving landscape of business ownership, Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs) are emerging as a transformative choice for companies, especially in the creative sector. Several creative agencies like Quiet Storm and Emperor have walked the EOT path, finding a potent blend of entrepreneurial spirit and legacy preservation.


Understanding EOTs

An EOT is a unique ownership model where a trust acquires a controlling interest (over 51%) in a company on behalf of its employees. This option, introduced in 2014, aims to foster a culture of shared ownership and success. It’s not just about business continuity; it’s about building a legacy that values and empowers every team member.


The EOT Model: Driving Innovation and Legacy

EOTs resonate with the ethos of collective entrepreneurship and business development. This model encourages a business environment where everyone, from the boardroom to the frontline, shares in the success. It’s both a business structure and a philosophy designed to nurture a company’s identity and values.


Why Choose EOTs? The Benefits


1. Tax Efficiency for Owners:
A key attraction for business owners is the significant tax relief. When transferring shares to an EOT, owners can benefit from Capital Gains Tax exemption. Additionally, EOT-owned companies can award up to £3,600 per employee annually as a tax-free bonus.


2. Inclusive Benefit Structure:
EOTs mandate equal benefit distribution among employees, fostering a more inclusive and motivated workforce. This structure aligns everyone’s interests, driving collective effort and success.


3. A Strategic Exit Option:
For business owners contemplating succession, EOTs offer a graceful exit strategy. This transition allows owners to gradually reduce their involvement while ensuring the business thrives under collective stewardship.


4. Financial and Operational Upsides:

  •  The arrangement allows for a significant realisation of share value without incurring Capital Gains Tax.
  • It facilitates a smoother financial transition, with the possibility of funding from future profits rather than external sources.
  • EOTs enhance job security and motivation, as employees are more invested in the business’s success.
  • Owners can plan for a phased withdrawal, ensuring a seamless transfer of skills and leadership.


The EOT Path: A Journey to Shared Success

For leaders in the creative sector, EOTs represent a meaningful alternative to conventional mergers and acquisitions. This route allows business owners to elegantly step back, focusing on other ventures or retirement plans while still nurturing the company’s growth and ethos.

Opting for an EOT is not just about financial gains; it’s a commitment to a shared future. It’s a promise to uphold the values and vision that have been the cornerstone of a business, ensuring they are carried forward by those who have contributed to its success.


Conclusion: EOTs as a Legacy Tool

In a world where some businesses are seen as mere assets to be traded, EOTs stand out as a beacon of sustainability and collective progress. They can offer a way to preserve the essence of a business while embracing the future with a united front. For creative industry leaders looking to leave a lasting impact, EOTs may provide a path to do so with integrity, inclusivity and innovation.

For a deeper dive into EOTs, book a place at our upcoming BAND event on January 24, 2024.

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Julian Davies

Julian Davies

Managing Partner at Redfin

Managing partner and Chartered Accountant with 30+ years of experience in marketing, media, and creative industries. He leads the Redfin team, offering expert advice on growth and profitability. Former owner manager of an agency acquired by a listed group; his industry insights are second to none. Off duty, you might find him on the golf or tennis court, determined to master new tricks.
Shelley Watkin

Shelley Watkin

Client Finance Director at Redfin

A qualified Chartered Accountant with 20+ years of experience in the marketing services sector. During her 5+ years at Redfin, she served as Client Finance Director offering invaluable insights into strategic and commercial matters. Shelley has also assumed the role of Finance Director for various creative agencies, guiding them through successful sales processes. If she gets free time after managing her children’s busy schedules, she likes to chill out doing yoga and gardening.