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Are EOTs the Future of Succession Planning?


Succession Planning

Succession planning is a pivotal step for retiring business owners aiming to ensure the continued success and longevity of their enterprises. One increasingly popular tool in the UK for achieving this is the Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). This model not only facilitates smooth transitions but also enhances employee engagement and commitment, creating a win-win situation for both parties.


Understanding Employee Ownership Trusts

An Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) is a type of employee benefit trust that enables employees to hold a significant stake in a business. Introduced by the UK government in 2014, EOTs provide a financially efficient route for business owners planning their retirement. Essentially, the business owner sells a majority stake (between 51% to 100%) of their company into a trust, which is held on behalf of all employees.


Benefits of Using EOTs for Succession Planning

The appeal of EOTs lies in their numerous benefits, including tax efficiencies for both selling owners and employees. For instance, business owners can sell their shares to an EOT free from capital gains tax, provided certain conditions are met. This aspect makes EOTs an attractive and cost-effective exit strategy.


From an employee perspective, EOTs foster a greater sense of belonging and motivation, as staff become co-owners of the company. Additionally, companies owned by EOTs can distribute tax-free bonuses to employees, capped at £3,600 per annum per employee. This feature boosts employee morale and aids in attracting and retaining top talent.


Challenges and Considerations

While EOTs offer significant advantages, they are not without challenges. The process requires meticulous planning and advice from experts specializing in legal, financial, and HR aspects. Additionally, the success of an EOT depends on maintaining transparency and communication with employees, ensuring they are informed and involved throughout the transition.


For retiring business owners, an Employee Ownership Trust offers a viable and beneficial route for succession planning. By aligning the interests of the owner and the employees, EOTs ensure the continuity of the business and enhance its internal culture and market competitiveness. With proper planning and execution, this model can provide a robust foundation for future growth and sustainability. EOTs represent not just an exit strategy, but a step towards a more collaborative and resilient business model.


Find out if an EOT could work for you, contact us to discuss further.

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