Transfer of Ownership
Thursday 15th December 2022 marked the first day of new ownership for Blue Sky Financial Planning Ltd. A momentous occasion in so many ways.
We are delighted to announce that Gary Neild, founder of Blue Sky, has not sold to a third-party consolidator. Instead, he and his wife have transferred 100% of the company shares to the team; the people who make Blue Sky what it is!
I believe I am blessed to have such a wonderful team serving a fabulous array of clients. Our 20+ year journey has been all about teamwork, on every level, and I’m proud to be able to pass the ownership of Blue Sky over to the team, via the EOT.
I would like to thank every client personally for the support and faith that you have had in Blue Sky. Along with the Board, I will continue to ensure that Blue Sky lives by its principles and resonates with the strong values that we all admire.
Gary is very proud of what we have created at Blue Sky. We have been told on many occasions – by those across the financial sector – that we are quite different to most financial advisory practices.
The industry Gary joined, way back in the nineties, was very self-serving. Protectionism, ambiguity, greed and an emphasis on commission and sales targets were just some of the elements encountered. Gary was galvanised to create a business which genuinely cared for its clients, one that saw it as a privilege to look after clients’ money, with a determination to communicate, to nurture, to educate and to provide a sounding board for important financial decisions.
Through our comprehensive financial planning approach, we have been able to empower clients to enjoy their money whilst they have good health, and with confidence.
Over the years, Gary has been approached by many companies offering to ‘absorb’ Blue Sky into the wombs of their businesses. We looked at every offer with an inquisitive approach, but not once did Gary and his leadership team really believe that any of these companies truly resonated with the Blue Sky ethos.
Protecting the legacy of the business has always been Gary’s highest priority.
In practice, what does the change to an EOT mean?
From a client’s point of view, it will be business as usual although we are using the new arrangement as a catalyst for further dynamic change and innovation. Integral to our development is our enthusiasm towards attracting exciting talent and additional professionalism to the team.
Gary has committed to another five years as CEO because he still has a burning passion to make a difference to others and to help Blue Sky fulfil its potential.
The team will indirectly own the shares in a John Lewis/Waitrose style arrangement which will engage them even more in the running of the business. However, as with the mentioned companies, the Board and Senior Management teams will use their expertise to run the company as before.
This arrangement is called an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) and the legislation in the UK was born in 2014. Only just over one thousand companies across all sectors have embarked upon an EOT and we are delighted to be part of this relatively new paradigm.
There are tax advantages for both departing owners and the new owners, but these weren’t the overriding factors behind our decision. It helps, of course, which is why the incentive is in place. The focus however has been on protecting the legacy created over the last 20+ years – October 2002 was when Blue Sky was formed.
We have created an independent trustee company whose sole purpose is to monitor the business and ensure that Blue Sky and the Board are being equitable to all employees in the spirit of the EOT structure and legislation.
What are the benefits?
The idea is that Blue Sky will always remain in the EOT arrangement and will never be sold. Below are some further benefits for all:
- Continuity for clients and their families in generations to come
- Continuity and security for the Blue Sky team
- Employee management incentives to our two Directors, Russell and Tammy
- A measured and careful succession plan for the current CEO, over a 5-year period
- An opportunity to attract bright professional talent to Blue Sky
- The Blue Sky team will be aligned to the productivity and profitability of the business
In essence, Blue Sky has created an EOT to provide a sustainable ownership structure for the long-term and seeks to embed even further, a collaborative ethos, that elevates the company, to even higher levels.
Employee involvement is central to how Blue Sky operates. Historically, we have had a relatively collaborative structure with a high level of engagement from the team. This cultural approach led the directors to immediately believe that Blue Sky was a perfect fit for an EOT.