Team takes over ownership at corporate finance firm

The existing team at fds Director Services, based in Wakefield, have taken ownership of the business via an Employee Ownership Trust.

Jo Haigh, CEO and Founder of fds, has passed ownership of her business support and director training business to the managing director Poonam Kaur, and the existing team, as part of the company’s succession planning.

Haigh passed on the opportunity to exit the business via a traditional trade sale, something which fds specialises in.

She chose an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), explaining that she wanted the same values and DNA to remain with the business post-exit.

She said she also wanted to reward the team who have helped build the business and will be the next generation of the company.

All staff (subject to participation rules) each have ownership in the business through the EOT. The EOT also has a trustee board that has final control over the operation of the business.

Haigh said: “Having started fds back in 1989, I am passionate about what happens to fds next, and I truly believe passing ownership of the company via an EOT to the team is the ideal way.

“The EOT allows me to still retain a small amount of shares, but the EOT is the main shareholder of the business, I will also still be remaining as CEO, but I fully support the team in the route we will be taking going forward.

“Fortunately fds experienced no downturn during COVID-19. We have actually expanded our services, now offering crowdfunding and EOT services to SME business owners, in addition to our existing services such as fundraising, trade sales, acquisitions, company valuations and director-level training.

“And although we have all been working remotely, the team have continued to work incredibly hard throughout this period.

“I am confident that this is the best route for fds to continue to grow and deliver services to business across the country.”

Kaur said: “At fds we specialise in helping companies with their succession planning, whether that’s via a trade sale, management buyout or an EOT.

“It is so incredibly generous that Jo has decided to pass the business to the team, and I am extremely proud to lead us into the next chapter so we can continue to build the company and take it forward for many years to come.

“An EOT is a great incentive for the whole team as now the business they are working incredibly hard in, is now a business they own, something of which they may have never considered a possibility previously.

“The EOT also allows the business to reward members of the EOT with tax-free bonuses, so it’s a great way to incentivise the team, as well as future members who join the business.”