A Vote of Confidence

A management buyout of BDO Guernsey demonstrates the owners’ belief in the business and the island, says managing director Richard Searle. Will Green met him to discuss the future

WHEN it comes to buying your own business, it’s a big step for anyone. Add into the mix, dozens of colleagues and a venerable history stretching back to the 19th century – and it’s not something you do unless you have absolute confidence in the business.

And that’s exactly what Richard Searle, Andre Trebert, Justin Hallett and Stuart Phillips have when it comes to BDO Guernsey which they bought from BDO LLP in the UK. Now a wholly-owned Guernsey business, it means that decision-making can be focused on a local basis.

‘This business has been around since 1900. I’ve been in this firm since 1990 in Guernsey. I have been lucky enough as part of this business to evolve and have a career that’s spanned a number of different services and skills and client bases,’ says Richard.

‘All four of us have lived and worked here for many, many years and it’s our home. We are part of the local community.

‘If we didn’t have a confidence in the business and importantly in the business as a whole in the strength of the BDO brand locally and globally, and in the people here – not necessarily in that order – if we didn’t have a confidence in all three of those, we wouldn’t have been putting in our own personal capital to invest in it. But we do have that confidence.’

Looking to the future

He adds: ‘We see this as quite an opportunity to be able to drive the business forward, design the shape of the business in a way that is absolutely relevant for our Guernsey client base and our Guernsey staff, two key markets if you like, in a way that we can focus on the areas that we know best.’

Richard, who describes himself as an optimist, also says that BDO Guernsey is very much here for the long-term - with the development of its people at the heart of its culture.

‘There are cross-border opportunities for people to work and broadly that’s unchanged. We had those before and we continue to have those – and that’s a great thing when we are recruiting local students for example in terms of opportunities as to where their career can take them with a professional qualification.’

With around 80 staff in Guernsey, other career opportunities include gaining professional qualifications, developing expertise across different areas and working with varied clients.

In terms of the market place and client base, Richard says that the management buyout supports activity both from a Channel Islands and international perspective. ‘When you think across the Channel Islands. we have got something like 380 people which puts us certainly up there amongst the largest professional services organisations as BDO,’ according to Richard.

‘And it allows us, I think, from a client basis to be really focusing on our core sectors here in Guernsey particularly being insurance, funds and asset management, fiduciary, private wealth and commercial.’

You can read the full article in the November issue of Business Brief