On 1 July 2019, a change to the ownership of Gilkison Group was made to include both Chris Taylor and Ashleigh Watson as shareholders. This change was made as part of our longer-term ownership succession strategy, which has led to the inclusion of a new majority shareholder in Broadleaf Financial Group.
For 40 years, Gilkison Group has been owned by a member of the Gilkison family (initially my father Peter Gilkison and then me). However, as the business has grown and an increasing number of people depend on its success, it has been important to me to remove the risks associated with having a single owner (i.e. me).
Since the late 90s, we have seen a significant number of small financial advice businesses sold to institutions linked to the big four Australian Banks. The story was that larger scale would lead to much better delivery of financial advice and related services.
The owner selling the business was well-rewarded financially, though the employees and clients who remained after that transaction were now part of a system designed to maximise shareholder returns. The profit motive that existed for the original owner and arguably the others working in the business was very different to the bigger institution that then owned the business.
Unfortunately, due to that profit motive being different, the better delivery of financial advice and related services rarely happened.
Having seen that happen, we wanted to do something about it. Based on our history, we have a deep belief in employee ownership for businesses in our field. We think that if the people delivering the financial advice and service are the same people who own the business they work for, the chances of a positive result for all involved is greatly improved. It basically creates a direct link between the experience of the clients served and the success of the business (and therefore, the owners of that business).
Consequently, we formed a new company named Broadleaf Financial Group, with a purpose of financing and fostering emerging leaders into future owners in financial advice businesses.
In the spirit of our history of family business, Broadleaf was co-founded by Richard Hernan and I. My friendship with Richard spans 30 years, including close family connections (i.e. he too was ear bashed by Pete as a younger man for hitting a cricket ball or two into things he wasn’t supposed to).
Although Broadleaf has a larger aspiration to positively influence the future of financial advice in Australia, it serves a vital role for Gilkison Group, which is to provide a pathway for those working within Gilkison to become its future owners. This provides the best possibility for it to retain its small, personalised, family-oriented approach in perpetuity.
With core team members as direct owners, together with Broadleaf Financial Group, we are proud of the significant improvement in the stability of Gilkison Group, which is intended to benefit all its stakeholders.