Highly Commended Employee Owned Business of the Year

Written by Heidi, 20 January 2019

The Oak Investment Partnership was recently awarded 'Highly Commended Employee Owned Business of the Year'.

Established in 1992, as ‘Wise Investment’, The Oak Investment Partnership is an employee owned financial planning and fund management business based in a barn conversion on the outskirts of Chipping Norton. The Partnership comprises of three companies and employs nearly fifty Partners. Wise Investment Ltd offers independent Financial Advice, while Evenlode Investment Management Ltd and Wise Funds Ltd are fund management businesses.

In November of this year, The Oak Investment Partnership were honoured to be awarded ‘Highly Commended’ in the Employee Owned Business of the Year category at this year’s Employee Ownership Awards.

But what is Employee Ownership and why is it so important to the way we run our businesses?

If you’ve heard of employee ownership before, it’s probably from John Lewis and Partners, who were one of the first, and remain one of the largest, employee owned businesses in the UK. Their business is held in trust for the benefit of each and every one of its employees (whom they call Partners), and The Oak Investment Partnership is set up in exactly the same way.

The economic contribution of employee ownership in the UK is significant and growing fast - employee ownership now delivers 4% of UK GDP annually. Research by the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) shows that ‘on average, employee owned businesses achieve higher productivity and greater levels of innovation and are more resilient to economic turbulence.’ Considering the current economic climate, this can only be a good thing for both our Partners and our clients.

Employee ownership was introduced to The Oak Investment Partnership back in 2013, as Tony Yarrow, the founder, started to think of eventual retirement. As we already shared much of the same ethos and many of the same values that the employee owned culture promotes, it seemed the obvious way to ensure that the business and its culture is preserved for years to come. Since becoming employee owned five years ago, the Trust has been gradually buying the company from the original directors and now owns 76% of the business.

The Partnership has gone from strength to strength since becoming employee owned. The rapid growth of the business has required a lot of recruitment. The EOA state that ‘Employee Owned Businesses have more engaged, more fulfilled and less stressed workforces’, and it is this positive culture and accountability that The Oak Investment Partnership is becoming known for within the Financial Services Industry.

We are committed to providing a safe and productive environment for our Partners, and actively promote staff wellbeing and mental health awareness. Having a ‘happy team’ stays front and centre of our thinking. Without a happy team, all other goals would be unobtainable. By looking after our staff, they are in the best position to look after your money.

Employee Ownership Awards

Each year the EOA hosts an annual conference and gala dinner in Birmingham, where delegates from over 250 employee owned companies from across the UK come together to share knowledge and experience, and recognise those companies leading the way within the EO Sector.

This year key note speakers included the Mayor of the West Midlands and former CEO of John Lewis, Andy Street;the founder of Sawday’s and Cannopy and Stars, Alastair Sawday, as well as last years winner of the EO Business of the Year, Cambridge Weight Plan. Ten delegates from The Oak Investment Partnership were also able to attend a variety of lectures, seminars and workshops over the course of the two day event. One idea we have taken from the event is the implementation of a ‘Bright Ideas’ form, to give our Partners the opportunity to have their say and submit suggestions to the management team, trustees and board of directors.

Hosted by the BBC news presenter, Martine Croxall, the highlight of the event is always the Awards ceremony, which culminates in the prestigious ‘Employee Owned Business of the Year Award’. The award celebrates an established employee owned businesses with a culture that drives its excellent all-round business performance. There was a very high calibre of entries this year and we were delighted to be awarded ‘Highly Commended’ in this category. It’s fantastic that our commitment to our staff and clients has been recognised in this way and we are now striving to win the category next year… watch this space.