Grant Thornton UK aims at dropping partner model

07 May 2015 3 min. read

Partners of Grant Thornton UK have backed a proposal to transform the firm from a partner-led entity to a shared enterprise, which will see all 4,500 of its people have a say and a stake in the firm. Shared enterprises are better able to engage employees, enjoy higher productivity and client relations, thus the move is set to help the firm reach its goal of doubling profitability by 2020. The firm is now undertaking an internal consultation with its staff to decide how the new model will work, with roll-out set for July.

A shared enterprise is one in which each employee is part owner of the wider business. This business form, while not often adopted within professional services – where most firms have a partnership structure – has a number of advantages, research from Grant Thornton shows. The consultancy notes that for every £100 invested in the Esop index (FTSE-calculated UK Employee Ownership Index) on January 1 2003, £749 of value would now have been created, compared to £277 if invested in the FTSE All-Share. Furthermore, in businesses where every employee is an owner, productivity is improved by 55%, while there is also a 70% improvement in quality. With the success of the structure exemplified in John Lewis – a company renowned for its customer service.

Grant Thornton UK

Based on the firm’s advocacy of employee-led structures toward the outside world, the partner team last year decided to ‘walk the talk’, launching an internal assessment to review potential options for a radical departure from the status quo. The results of the internal due diligence were positive, and on the back of the findings the accounting and consulting firm has agreed to take the concept to the next stage of the process. 99% of the 185 partners at Grant Thornton – a remarkable percentage given the firm has been operating as a partnership ever since its inception – have backed a proposal by the leadership team that would see the business advisory launch an internal consultation on the implementation of a shared enterprise model. The firm expects that the model will improve staff engagement, attract more talent and will improve client relationships.

The consultation will involve all of Grant Thornton’s people, who will be able to contribute their ideas. The responsibility of the firm as a whole will be shared with employee representatives on the Oversight Board, building on their current attendance at key strategic leadership meetings. The rewards of the businesses performance will be shared, with profits shared with the whole staff – with professionals entrusted toward collaboratively achieving plans of doubling profitability by 2020. If ratified, the new model should be in place as of the 1st of July 2015.

Sacha Romanovitch and Scott Barnes - Grant Thornton

Sacha Romanovitch, per June 2015 the new CEO of Grant Thornton UK, succeeding Scott Barnes, who leads the firm since 2008, says: “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.