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Unlocking Excellence: The Power of Peak Performance Trust (PPT) in Employee Ownership

Employee Ownership

Unlocking Excellence: The Power of Peak Performance Trust (PPT) in Employee Ownership

By , May 22, 2024

Employee ownership is a transformative model that empowers staff to become stakeholders in the company’s long-term success. Designed to align employee interests with improving the company’s performance, it has become popular in many mid-market businesses through what’s known as an employee share scheme, or ESS. One powerful financial instrument often utilised to support an ESS is the Peak Performance Trust (PPT), and grasping the key elements of peak performance is key to achieving outstanding success in various areas of your business.

A Peak Performance Trust is, at its core, a financial instrument, but it is also a powerful reward mechanism for employee performance. In this article, we’ll delve into the benefits of a Peak Performance Trust, the legal considerations of setting one up, and make a compelling case for why it is the optimal structure for employee ownership in Australia.

What is a Peak Performance Trust?

A Peak Performance Trust is a unique blend of employee share ownership and a robust emphasis on performance-based incentives. This structure ensures that employees are not only shareholders but also directly benefit from the company’s performance.

In a Peak Performance Trust, shares in the business are held in trust for employees. Ownership is not given away freely but granted upon the achievement of specific performance goals and objectives, usually tied to established personal and team KPIs. This process ensures that ownership is earned and not simply handed out.

As with any trust, it functions by a person or persons legally holding company assets on behalf of beneficiaries—in this case, your employees. A business owner establishes the PPT, aligning employee interests with the company’s performance. Your PPT will be overseen by one or more trustees, who manage the assets in accordance with the trust’s rules or objectives to ensure asset allocation is handled in a structured and accountable manner.

Putting it simply, from an employee perspective, the more value a participant contributes to the success of the business, the greater their reward in the form of ownership.

The Benefits of Peak Performance Trust (PPT) as an Employee Ownership Structure

A Peak Performance Trust helps shift employees’ mindsets from task-doers to business shapers, helping them see beyond their narrow work obligations into what counts for genuine business improvement. We call this the ‘ownership mindset’.

1. Alignment of Interests

Peak Performance structures link performance to ownership, providing employees the opportunity to have a direct stake in the company’s financial success. When set up and implemented correctly, a PPT can be a powerful intrinsic motivator to contribute to company growth and financial performance.

A PPT fosters a performance-driven culture of continuous improvement where employees are incentivised to excel and encourage each other to lift their game. As more employees take on this results-oriented mindset, driving innovation and excellence throughout the organisation.

2. Retention and Engagement

The promise of future financial rewards enhances employee retention and engagement. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that recognises their efforts, compensates them fairly, and provides a stake in the company’s future. By recognising their contributions, PPTs make employees feel valued, fostering a sense of belonging and motivation to contribute to the business’s success.

3. Customisable Performance Metrics

Your leadership team can tailor performance metrics to suit specific goals and objectives. There is no one-size-fits-all approach; your adviser can help develop an incentive structure and KPIs that align closely with the company’s strategic priorities.

4. Attracting Top Talent

The performance-based incentives of a PPT can become a powerful tool for attracting top talent. Driven prospective employees are drawn to companies that fairly reward their efforts by offering ownership opportunities in exchange. To achieve the full benefits of PPTs, companies should also focus on high participation and performance policies, including information sharing, teamwork, and autonomy.

Why PPT is the Optimal Structure for Employee Share Ownership Plans in Australia?

Given the Australian culture of ‘a fair go’, the Peak Performance Trust has become uniquely suited to the Australian business landscape, where people want to give their all while maintaining a work-life balance.

1. Alignment with Performance-Based Culture

Australia’s business environment places a strong emphasis on performance and accountability. The Peak Performance model aligns perfectly with this culture, making it a natural fit for Australian companies.

2. Compliance with the Regulatory Framework

Peak Performance Trust structures are compliant with Australian regulatory requirements, ensuring that companies can implement them without encountering legal obstacles. Compared to other employee share schemes, PPTs offer unique advantages by being specifically tailored to meet the Australian regulatory and cultural context, making them an optimal choice for businesses looking to empower their employees with equity.

3. Flexibility and Customisation

The flexibility of PPT allows Australian companies to customise performance metrics to suit their industry, market, and strategic goals, making it adaptable to various sectors.

4. Incentivising Growth and Innovation

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, Australian companies need structures that promote growth and innovation. The Peak Performance Trust incentivises employees to drive both by rewarding exceptional performance.

5. Talent Attraction and Retention

The Australian job market is highly competitive. Labour in many industries is scarce, though wages are fairly consistent for similar roles. A Peak Performance Trust can be a powerful differentiator for companies seeking to attract and retain the best talent, as it demonstrates a commitment to a positive, equitable culture, as well as employee growth and success.

6. Confidentiality

Because the PPT is a trust, ownership of units within the trust is not a matter of public record (unlike shares in a company); this is important internally (other employees) and externally (competitors, recruiters, etc).

7. Simplicity of administration

A Peak Performance Trust structure simplifies administration. The PPT becomes the only new shareholder, and so share registry changes are simple. At the same time, internal changes within the PPT (think an employee changing address) do not need to be updated with ASIC etc.

Empowering Excellence through Peak Performance Trust (PPT)

In the journey towards employee ownership and fostering a culture of performance and excellence, Peak Performance Trust (PPT) stands out as a superior structure. Its ability to align employee interests, drive results, and adapt to the unique characteristics of the Australian business landscape makes it the optimal choice for companies seeking to empower their workforce and secure long-term success.

By embracing PPT, Australian businesses can unlock the full potential of their employees, driving growth, innovation, and prosperity. Additionally, PPT plays a crucial role in supporting professional development by aligning employee rewards with company and personal success, fostering a work environment that encourages career progression and professional growth.


Craig West

Craig West

Executive Chairman | Succession Plus

Craig West is a strategic accountant with over 20 years of experience advising business owners. His background as a CPA in public practice has provided invaluable experience in the key issues of concern to business owners.

In March 2014, Craig was appointed Executive Chairman of the SME Association of Australia, Australia’s largest small business organisation representing over 300,000 business owners.

In October 2014, he was awarded the Exit Planner of the Year at the Exit Planning Institute Annual Conference in Texas, USA, due to his innovative development of an exit planning process to help business owners maximise business value and achieve a successful exit.

Craig’s proprietary structure - a Peak Performance Trust - has won the Australia-wide award for the Employee Share Ownership Plan of the year twice in four years.

In November 2018, Craig launched SME Experts in partnership with Mark Bouris’ Mentored on Podcast One and quickly grew the monthly podcast audience to over 26,500 downloads; in October 2019, he released a new podcast focused on medium-sized businesses - Mid-Market Matters.

In July 2021, Craig joined the NSW Committee for STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners) – focusing on advising families across generations.

Craig has also launched a SaaS platform, Capitaliz (which captures the 21-step process), to assist other advisers internationally deliver advisory services at scale.

In November 2021, Craig was appointed Executive Chairman of NSW Leaders, a business mentoring group for leading NSW businesses.

In July 2022, Craig West received the award of Doctor of Business Administration for his research thesis titled “Examination of the key factors driving business exit options in Australian Small and Medium Enterprises.”

Craig is passionate about encouraging business owners to think strategically, maximise the value of their business and achieve a successful exit.

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