Mike Kemsley is Hon. Treasurer at Broad Street Ward Club and treasurer/trustee at EnhanceAble/Geneva Road Ltd.
In what ways does employee share ownership serve a useful purpose?
It signals commitment in two directions – from a company to its employees and vice-versa;
It encourages employees to think and act as business people and develop the ‘hidden entrepreneur’.
How can we widen and deepen the adoption and use of employee share ownership?
Financial education for one thing; there’s too little knowledge outside the advisor community. Corporation tax breaks to help companies become employee owned.
Encourage banks to become more interested in funding employee buy-outs.
What would you tell someone who is ‘on the fence’ about introducing employee share ownership to their company?
Take some advice from the Esop Centre and member firms that are plan users.
What do you think will change about employee share ownership over the next five years?
We will definitely see the sector grow.
What do you wish other people knew about employee share ownership?
I wish more non-executive directors and bankers would commit to gaining a proper understanding of the benefits of ESO.
What has been the most important development in employee share ownership during your career?
Positive – the launch of the UK Share Incentive Plan;
Negative – the deferral of corporation tax relief previously available to companies funding their EBTs for legitimate purposes.
Which change to employee share plans legislation, in the UK or elsewhere, would you most like to see?
The election of employee-nominated board members.
Why do you think employee share ownership has enjoyed cross-party support in the UK?
UK politicians can see how the sector has developed in the US but are also conscious of European developments, e.g. in France where small business owners are required to inform their employees if they intend selling and to give them the opportunity to organise an employee buyout.
Who would be the guest of honour at your fantasy dinner party?
Living: Kevin Spacey
Dead: Gore Vidal
Which book has most changed your life?
No single book has changed my life but many have enriched it.
What is your favourite quote and why?
Oscar Wilde: Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.
My best ideas usually materialise around this time of day!
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
Successful business start-up for the Bank of Boston (1983-88)
Turnaround, MBO, ESOP and eventual flotation of Sweett Group plc (1993-2007)
Balancing paid and pro-bono work since 2000.
How do you relax?
Read a good book.