How can we Ensure that More People Feel a Sense of Ownership in the Successes of Business?

20/11/2023
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Ben Brabyn
Ecosystem Specialist and Former Head of Level39

The proportion of the population who own shares in public or private companies continues to shrink.
How can we ensure that more people feel a sense of ownership in the successes of business?

VocL Voices’ Responses

Vincent Egunlae
Manager – M&A, Grant Thornton UK LLP

– Demystifying routes to business ownership
– Expanding the EMI share option scheme to make it more tax efficient for companies/improve incentivization for companies to have employees share in the shared reward of the business
– Reduce income tax on deposits into mutual funds
– Encourage businesses to pay sweet equity on a pro-rate basis via tax incentivisation

Dara Latinwo
Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting

Direct share ownership, while the most obvious, is by no means the only way citizens can cultivate a sense of connection and involvement with business. In today’s world, being a customer increasingly affords individuals an informal seat at the decision-making table of various businesses and perhaps a more interesting way forward would be to formalise / enhance the influence that comes with the consumer relationships. In this way, accountability and responsibility, rather than legal ownership, would be the vehicle through which people in society could develop a deeper – maybe even less transactional – sense of ownership in the success of business because they played a small part in achieving it.

Lara Tabet
Associate, Arup

Having worked for an employee owned company for over a decade, my first reaction to this question is “but what does success mean?”. As outside investors, we can often distance ourselves from the impact of a company and only be interested in the bottom line. So to me, the important question is how to ensure more people are interested in the positive impact a business can make and then pushing for its financial success too.

Justine Ball
Partner, Shakespeare Martineau LLP / AMPA

Investment in business extends further than the sole prospect of financial return. Instead drivers to invest are increasingly moving into the realms of sustainability and people wanting their investments not only to be safe but to also have a positive impact – whether it be through a company’s zero net carbon target, environmental initiatives or community projects. So businesses need to be able to offer more to their investors – the opportunity to buy into a socially and environmentally responsible business.

Richard Sansom
East Midlands Network Director, Cadent Gas

To foster broader ownership in business success, we need more Community Share initiatives. These initiatives could offer micro-shares of local businesses to residents, even in minimal, affordable amounts. Imagine a mobile app that rounds up small change from purchases and invests it into a portfolio of local businesses. This not only democratises investment but also strengthens community bonds with businesses. Regular, transparent updates on business progress and community forums for shareholder input could further enhance a sense of collective success and responsibility.

Matthew Balnaves
Head of Strategy, Agent Liverpool

Year-on-year there has been a dramatic rise in the number of employee owned companies. Employee owned companies account for over 30bn turnover in the UK and are proven to improve employee retention and commitment. By giving everyone in the company a stake, employee-owned businesses are geared towards high levels of internal consultation, innovation and staff responsibility.

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