How ESG changed my life.

Neil Farrell Neil Farrell
18th May 2022

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

The nadir for me, and for Farrell Associates was in 2019 when an (ex) employee had just stolen a large amount of money, and after a decade in business we were more or less back where we started.

Farrell Associates had been launched with the idea of putting clients first. The firm supported asset managers with anything they were happy to give us, and while we good at filling jobs, and had a strong process; culturally we were average at best.

It was a blur of KPIs and stress, and no one was loving life.

The moment everything changed was when a client asked us to help hire someone to lead their ESG integration efforts. Despite being aware what it was, I had no idea that we would be able to combine our liberal outlook and charity work, with the sector that we operated in. Suddenly, everything made sense – we were going to source the people that would light the fire in our clients to hit their sustainability goals.

We knew we had an epic journey ahead of us, but we had a mission and a lot of passion.

We set about dismantling the business and building it again one brick at a time. The foundations were laid with the three pillars of People, Profit and Planet. If we could break our yearly goals down into projects, and then assign them to a pillar – we could then focus on getting things done. Website? Profit. Bcorp? People. Our Head of Sustainability Steph speaking at schools? Planet.

We then had to think about building out the team and the culture. We knew that we wanted to create the optimal environment, which would put us in a peak mental state to be able to help our clients. We set our values as putting people before profit, and always wanting to improve as people personally and professionally. This took the hard edge out of what we were trying to do, and made it all about supporting each other, and our clients. The energy transfer went from being beaten with a stick, to something like us each owning our own allotment full of carrots.

We worked with Mia at Equinox Consulting to look at our team’s behaviours to see what our blind spots were. Turns out we were all off the scale in terms of extraversion, but very light on data and analytics. So, we hired someone to balance us out, and to bring some method to the madness.

Clients appreciated the fact that we were specialists, and passionate about what we were doing. They also appreciated the fact that we were truly trying to find the best solution, rather than sell something to them. We were able to work with some inspiring clients and move on from those who didn’t get what we were trying to do.

Now in June 2022, it feels like something great is happening every day, and while our mission to provide the people who will ensure a better future for the planet may never be complete; it has definitely changed my life and reinvigorated my career.

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