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Adviser launches course to help IFAs sell to their employees

Adviser launches course to help IFAs sell to their employees

The founder of Ovation Finance has launched a programme to help advisers sell their businesses to their employees.

Earlier this year Chris Budd sold the majority of his business to an employee ownership trust, which will own any profit his firm makes and which will have, as its beneficiaries, all the employees of Ovation.

He has since written a book called The Eternal Business detailing how to transition an advice firm into an employee ownership trust, which is similar to the structure used by the John Lewis Partnership, and the interest has prompted him to arrange a programme to help advisers.

Mr Budd said: "The interest in the book as been phenomenal. I have spoken to literally 50 or 60 companies since I made the announcement about my company back in March.

"The programme is aimed at all businesses but it just so happens that it is perfect for IFAs because their businesses have a good ongoing income and the earn out comes from future profits, and most IFA businesses are relatively low risk."

The programme costs £300 a month and helps prepare a business for the transition into employee ownership over the course of 18 months or two years.

Mr Budd has retained a minority stake in Ovation and continued as the company's chairman.

He said: "The main thing advisers need to understand is that it is not something you can do overnight. Because the earn out comes from future profits of the business, you need to take time to make sure the business can survive without you.

"It needs engaged employees. If you are going to do it, take time to think about it to get the business in the right shape."

He said selling to an employee ownership trust was an alternative to selling to a consolidator or to the company's existing management team.

There are also tax advantages to this structure, since as long as the trust owns a majority of the business, the payments it receives are free of capital gains tax. Additionally, the employees receive up to £3,600 of their payments free of income tax.

Of the 280,000-odd businesses in the UK with between 10 and 250 employees, only some 320 are employee-ownership trust businesses.

One of biggest employee-owned companies in the UK is the John Lewis Partnership, which runs Waitrose and John Lewis, whose employees are partners in the business and receive a share of the company's profits as an annual bonus, with all employees receiving the same percentage of their salary.

damian.fantato@ft.com

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