To commemorate Equiom’s anniversary year, Global CEO, Sheila Dean outlines the business’s top five pivotal moments. 2018 marks 40 years since the company that would later be named Equiom began its journey.
1. Where it all began
Equiom’s journey started back in August 1978. Audiences were flocking to cinemas to see Grease, ‘Three Times a Lady’ by the Commodores was number one and the world’s first ever IVF baby had just been born. Meanwhile, in the Isle of Man, a company that would become Ernst & Young was established, marking our true beginnings. Twelve years later, in 1990 I joined that company as a trainee accountant. At this time Larry Kearns was Managing Partner. He later became, and is still to this day, my mentor and I’ll always be grateful for his influence and guidance. I moved into the trust department from audit, passed my accountancy exams and worked my way up the ranks to Director following the sale of the business to Anglo Irish Bank in 2003.
2. The Equiom name was born
Skip forward three years and the highlight of my career still has to be when I led the initial management buyout to purchase Anglo Irish Bank’s trust business in 2006, which then saw me become Managing Director of the newly formed Equiom. This was a key turning point for me and a memory I will cherish for life. It was then that the Equiom name was born - a combination of the words equity and IOM.
3. Establishing Equiom’s growth strategy
From day one, we had ambitious plans to grow the company and a twin track strategy of organic and acquisitive growth suited us best. We had a specific focus on increasing client numbers and jurisdictional reach and we soon completed our first acquisition - Intertrust’s yachting and aviation (Y&A) business - in 2011. With this first acquisition giving strength to our existing Y&A offering and setting the ball rolling for our acquisitive growth, we then went on to complete five more acquisitions between 2012 and 2014, expanding our service offering to include tax and also moving us into Jersey, and later Guernsey in 2015. During this timeframe (in 2013) we also completed a secondary management buyout which saw me become Global CEO – a particularly significant moment in my career.
4. Going global
For me, entering Asia was a major milestone and we achieved this through the acquisition of AFP Group, based in Hong Kong, in January 2015. This was the beginning of our journey to becoming a truly global name and the coming months and years saw us dramatically grow our presence in Hong Kong as well as entering Singapore and Japan. Since then we’ve added new locations in the Middle East, the USA and Canada, all the while expanding across Europe. One thing that hasn’t changed during our years in business is the importance we place on finding the right ‘fit’. I’ve walked away from acquisition opportunities because the attitude or ethos wasn’t what we embody and in the same vein, finding great people to work with has sealed the deal for me on several occasions too. To me, Equiom is one big family so working with people who get you is just priceless.
5. Diversifying our services
Our growth has not only increased our jurisdictional reach, but it has also considerably expanded our service offering. In August 2016, we acquired Links Group, adding the unique service of corporate partner services in the UAE and State of Qatar. This really changed our thinking on service line diversification and we recognised the potential to serve our clients better as they travel on their journey of wealth creation from entrepreneur to high net worth individual, planning for future generations. Our vision is to support clients from beginning to end, wherever they are in the world.
The story of Equiom over the past 40 years has been incredible and one I love telling. What started out as an Isle of Man trust business employing 80 local people has become a global professional services provider, employing more than 600 staff globally (210 in the Isle of Man) and offering more than 16 service lines across 16 jurisdictions. And it certainly doesn’t end there. My vision is to grow Equiom to achieve scale and substance in all of our jurisdictions, with the ultimate aim of becoming the premier professional services provider in each location - and hand on heart I know it’s within reach.