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Grant Thornton Partners vote to become shared enterprise firm

Grant Thornton UK LLP has become the first major accountancy firm to launch an all employee consultation on a model for shared enterprise which will see all 4,500 of its people have a say and a stake in the firm.

Last week 99% of the company’s 185 partners overwhelmingly backed a proposal by the leadership team, led by CEO-elect Sacha Romanovitch with the backing of the Oversight Board, to launch a consultation on the implementation of a shared enterprise model.

In a radical departure from the traditional partner owned and run structure - which dominates professional services - shared enterprise means Grant Thornton will become a firm run by all its people.

Building on the firm’s culture which ensures each person’s views are valued, the shared enterprise model will mean Grant Thornton’s 4,500 people in the UK are empowered to make bold and agile decisions to the benefit of the firm’s clients.

This will create an environment in which everyone thinks and acts like an owner.

The firm believes shared enterprise will enable the firm to deliver higher profitability and points to a different, more inclusive form of ownership, which will be attractive to its people and its clients.

In line with Grant Thornton’s culture, its people will shape the specifics of how shared enterprise is implemented during the forthcoming consultation. This means all its people will have input to ensure the impact of the proposals enables sharing of ideas, responsibility and growth. Qualifying criteria will include measures focused on continued quality and excellence of work, building on those already in place for the partners.

The consultation will focus on three specific proposals:

  1. Shared ideas – ensuring all 4,500 of Grant Thornton’s people are able to contribute their thoughts on how to put its vision statement into action, through crowdsourcing the business plan.
  2. Shared responsibility – including employee representatives on its Oversight Board, building on their current attendance at key strategic leadership meetings.
  3. Shared rewards - opening up profits to all of Grant Thornton’s people, entrusting them to work collaboratively towards achieving plans to double profitability by 2020. 

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO-elect, Grant Thornton UK LLP, said:

“My ambition is for all of our people to have a stake in Grant Thornton becoming the go-to firm for growth. The only way we can fully harness the potential of all 4,500 of our people is through shared enterprise - a sense that we are all in this together sharing our thinking and ideas, sharing the responsibility to drive the business forward and sharing in the resulting rewards.

"Businesses with shared ownership structures significantly outperform other businesses. In fact; £100 invested in the Esop index (FTSE-calculated UK Employee Ownership Index) on January 1 2003 would now be worth £749, compared to £277 if invested in the FTSE All-Share.  They are also recording 55% improvements in productivity and 70% improvements in quality, and performed better in the recession, growing their sales by 11.1% compared to 0.6% for non-employee owned businesses. The success of this structure is exemplified by John Lewis, which operates in this way – and is renowned for its customer service."

Grant Thornton is now consulting with its employees and anticipates the first stages of this new model will be in place by 1 July 2015.