Section 172 Statement
Last updated March 2023
Promoting the success of Old Mill
Each of the Directors is mindful of their duties under section 172 (s172) to run the group for the benefit of its shareholders, and in doing so, to take into account the long-term impact of any decisions on stakeholder relationships and the impact of its activities on its reputation for high standards of business conducted. This statement addresses the ways in which we as a Board outwork this responsibility.
The comprehensive range of services provided by Old Mill means that many clients are able to use us as a “one stop shop” for their accountancy, audit, outsourcing, pensions, tax and wealth management advice. Given this, we are committed to continually looking for new ways to improve service levels, be it through investing in technology, recruitment of new specialist advisers or the acquisition of businesses that can provide complimentary services to those we already offer – as in the case of Brook Financial Management Ltd, which we acquired towards the end of the 2022 financial period.
We also regularly obtain feedback from our clients on services levels, both via our Client Advisory Panels and the use of regular client surveys. Pleasingly, in our most recent survey, clients gave Old Mill an average score of 4.4 out of 5 for quality of service, with written feedback making it clear how much our clients value the personal relationships they have with our employees.
The expertise, commitment, loyalty and dedication of our people are the single most important driver of our long term, sustainable success. Accordingly, we are firmly committed to ensuring equal opportunities and equal access to career development for everyone who works for Old Mill. We are proud that life in Old Mill is heavily influenced by our core values of Open-minded, Passionate and Lovely to work with, and we believe strongly in having open engagement with all employees across the Group.
Our employee engagement starts even before an employee’s first day with Old Mill – every new joiner receives a welcome phone call from our Chief Executive the week before they start.
In terms of ongoing engagement, there are regular team social events, ranging from go-karting to quiz nights to office BBQs.
We hold quarterly presentations for all employees, which is an opportunity to update them on business performance, strategic initiatives and year-to-date financial results.
We also have long-standing staff forum meetings, when small groups of employees from each office meet with our Chief Executive and HR Director to discuss people-matters on a more informal basis. This kind of engagement is vital in terms of enabling feedback to reach the Board from around the business, which in turn helps shape decision making throughout the Group. For example, due to the cost of living crisis, we accelerated pay rises for all employees during the period, a decision that was in part influenced by feedback obtained via the staff forums.
We also consider it important to promote and celebrate the successes and achievements of our employees. For example, every year we hold a “Long service and Exam passes” celebratory lunch in November. Having been forced to hold these virtually for the last two years, this time we were able to revert to a real-world celebration. Nearly 50 employees attended the event which, amongst other things, celebrated those who had successfully completed their Accountancy, Tax and Financial Planning qualifications, as well as others who had reached the milestones of 10, 15, 20 and 25 years’ service with Old Mill.
Alongside our Employee Engagement, we also have a comprehensive programme for Shareholder engagement.
This includes quarterly meetings to update them on the delivery of our strategic plan, plus related financial performance and shareholder returns.
Our Non-executive board members also regularly meet with our shareholders, in both small groups and on a 1-2-1 basis in order to obtain their input on business performance and strategic decision making.
We are committed to treating our suppliers in the same way that we like our own clients to treat Old Mill. In particular, we operate a system of twice-monthly supplier payment runs to ensure invoices are paid on a timely basis. This is particularly important for all the small, local businesses that supply Old Mill.
As a group firmly rooted in the South West, links with our local community are vitally important to us, and indeed, many of our employees and clients regularly socialise together away from work, for example at charity events.
We frequently undertake events to support local charities (for example, sponsored sky-dives), and also provide support and sponsorship to local clubs, charities and events, such as Young Farmers groups.
Perhaps the single most significant way in which we support and engage with the local community is via our partnership with the Somerset Community Foundation (plus related foundations in Devon and Wiltshire). Old Mill has its own charitable fund, with a charitable giving programme that is supported by the Foundation. Some of the local causes we supported during the period were Sweet Track Counselling and Paddington Farm Trust, which help enrich the lives of both disadvantaged young people and those suffering from mental health problems.
Arguably, though, perhaps the single biggest highlight during the period was when Jon Orchard, one of Old Mill’s Chartered Financial Planners, undertook a sponsored wing walk on a bi-plane, which was organised in conjunction with the Foundation.
We are committed to improving our carbon footprint. For example, our Wells Office is fitted with solar panels, and every office is fully equipped with a range of recycling bins.
In terms of future plans, we have made initial steps towards achieving B Corporation status, and are also investigating the potential to provide an electric car scheme for our employees.