Author: Maha Khan Phillips
CFA UK’s new initiative is about allowing members to use their skill-set to help their communities.
In May of 1955, a small group of financial analysts met one evening in Throgmorton Street to form the Society of Investment Analysts, the precursor to CFA UK. And while the investment industry - and indeed, the Society - have changed significantly in the decades that followed, one thing has always remained the same. From the onset, the Society and its members embraced a spirit of volunteerism.
That spirit continues in the work being done today. CFA UK is fuelled by the dedication and commitment of its members and supporters. And following recommendations from the Value in the Investment Profession Project, which was completed in 2016 and 2017, that commitment is increasingly looking outwards.
One recent initiative has been designed to support members who wish to volunteer as charity trustees. Jane Coffey, ASIP, an advisor on the Value in the Investment Profession Project, says the Society was keen to look at how it could deliver greater perceived and real value.
“We realised that our skill-set could help charities which don’t have masses of reserves, but which need to understand their finances, and forecast their inflows and outflows, and how sustainable they are,” she explains.
The CFA UK Charity Trusteeships Working Group was launched in October 2018, and held its first event in May. The event was fully booked, and involved a panel discussion with Stephen Robertson, Chief Executive of The Big Issue Foundation, Cath Bavage, Chief Executive of Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets and Sophia Giblin, Chief Executive of Clear Sky. Also on the panel were Patrick McKenna, CFA, trustee at Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets, Keith Burdon, ASIP, trustee at the Agnes Hunter Trust and Queensbury House Trust.
The discussion was chaired by Tom Peberdy, CFA, leader of the working group, and a product specialist in emerging and developed market credit at Investec Asset Management.
“We have a professional body here with a wide range of skill sets which stems beyond just the basics of financial acumen, and members wanted to give back to their community, and didn’t always know how to go about it. I think it’s great that so many people want to understand how to give their time and volunteer as trustees,” he says.
One of the reasons Peberdy joined the working group is because he himself wanted to learn how to become a trustee. “The whole purpose of the working group is to help CFA members understand the opportunities out there, and how they can communicate their skills. I wanted to go on that journey myself,” he explains.
Other members of the working group have significant experience donating their time to a range of charities. Keith Burdon, ASIP, is head of investment trusts and charities at Martin Currie. He also sits on the board of two local charities in Edinburgh – the Queensberry House Trust, which originates from the winding up of the Queensbury House Hospital in 1996 and focuses on relieving poverty and advancing health, and the Agnes Hunter Trust, which supports charities which help disabled people, and charities which assist with the education and training of disadvantaged people aged 16 and over who have left school.
“Because of my current role, and because I am a trustee at two charities, I can see the challenges and issues from both sides, so I thought it would be useful to join the group,” explains Burdon.
The working group will now look at how to facilitate trustee training for members who want access to it. It is also considering the merits of working with organisations which already recruit for trustee roles, and is thinking about whether it would be possible to connect those roles to the CFA jobs board, says Burdon. “So members would not just see paid for opportunities, but pro bono opportunities as well,” he explains.
But one challenge will be to raise the profile of the CFA outside of the industry, and start the process of engaging with charities. “There are nearly 170,000 charities in the UK, and it’s quite tough to mail them all and tell them that we have something to offer. We need to get the message out,” says Burdon.
According to Peberdy, part of that challenge is addressing the lack of understanding of what the investment profession does. “When you think of what the legal profession or the accountancy professions can offer, it is much more tangential for people, and lends itself more to trusteeships. The role of the investment profession is fairly misunderstood by wider society. But this is about impact. There are around 90,000 trustee vacancies out there, and we want to have more of an impact. We have a cohort with strong, analytical minds with good ethical foundations, who have done great governance and oversight work, and all of these things are transferable to charities” he points out.
But both Peberdy and Burdon say members will need to recognise that there will be more opportunities to support grass root charities than large, well-resourced organisations. “I think the crucial thing – and this was an overwhelming response form the panellists at our event – is that you have to work with a charity that resonates with you, because otherwise you won’t be fully engaged. So find a cause that resonates with you and has a positive impact for you, and go and help your local community,” says Peberdy.
To learn more about CFA UK’s charity activities, or for anyone interested in trustee training, please contact Jane Coffey by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.