First Sentier Investors: “Create are one of the best partners we work with”
We launched our partnership with First Sentier Investors (FSI) in 2018, an investment firm based in the City of London. Through the partnership, FSI has funded projects and sent volunteers to support our team in workshops, both in-venue and online.
Here we chat to Adrian Hilderly and Sarah Mahomed Ross (pictured), both on the Charity Committee, about their experiences of partnering with us, and the value of creativity to them and their organisation.
Why did the first sentier investors team choose to partner with us?
Adrian: We felt a strong cultural affinity with Create. We’re very much about sustainability and being responsible members of our community. Partnering with Create, which does good work in the local community, was really important to us. We were also thinking about how we could develop our volunteering programme.
Sarah: The way Create touches lots of different parts of society was really important, because that resonates with our employees. Through the volunteering and the programmes we’ve funded, we’ve worked with people from all different walks of life, different age groups, different abilities. And everyone at First Sentier can relate to one or more of those groups. So that’s been really important.
CAN YOU GIVE US A FLAVOUR OF THE EXPERIENCES YOU’VE HAD VOLUNTEERING ON CREATE PROJECTS?
Sarah: The projects have been very varied. One was with a group of older people at Chamberlain House in West London. Then I’ve been to JFK Special School in East London – there was an amazing energy there. And I’ve been a volunteer over the last year with young and adult carers. It has been a really positive experience. I’ve met people I would never have met, which has been really enriching.
Adrian: I did one in North London, with a group of carers. It was brilliant. Now we’re doing a photography project. What was really impressive is that, of the charities and organisations we partner with, Create was by far the quickest and most efficient at moving to remote sessions during the pandemic. It was really impressive how quickly the team adapted and were able to move forward.
“The Create team works with you to create a targeted, bespoke programme to put your funding to work in the areas where it can make the greatest difference, and to help co-ordinate meaningful opportunities for volunteering.”Sarah Mahomed Ross, First Sentier Investors
WHY IS CHARITY VOLUNTEERING IMPORTANT FOR First Sentier Investors?
Adrian: It’s fundamental to what we do. We’re trying to make volunteering part of our day-to-day. We have a set of values around care and community, and we’re trying to build how we define that. Part of the core of what we do is responsible investing. We like to invest in companies that share our long-term ethos. Volunteering is definitely part of that. How can you present those values if you’re not actively doing it yourself?
Sarah: Partnering with organisations such as Create gives our employees the chance to try volunteering, if they’ve never done it before, in an organised way. We get pretty much wholly positive feedback. And we have quite a generous annual volunteering leave now – three days per person.
HOW DOES IT BENEFIT YOUR ORGANISATION FOR STAFF TO VOLUNTEER?
Sarah: It’s very different from what we’re doing day to day. You’re working with people you might not meet, you’re learning different skills. You’re seeing things from a different perspective, as well as hopefully giving something back.
Adrian: It’s important for each of us and our firm to understand the world outside our little bubble. I’m sure it makes people we work with a little bit more rounded and our firm a bit more rounded too. Volunteering takes us out of our comfort zone in a good way. You’re meeting people you’ve never met before, doing something completely different to what you do. It’s good to challenge ourselves.
IS CREATIVITY IMPORTANT FOR YOU PERSONALLY?
Sarah: I’ve been knitting and crafting since I was a kid, and I painted for many years. I think creativity is really important. There needs to be a mix of that, even in financial services; we need to be creative thinkers. And also from a wellbeing perspective: for me, having the time to do some sewing or knitting in the lockdown, it just quietens my mind. You can see, having taken part in Create projects, how important that is, to have that respite.
“Of the charities and organisations we partner with, Create was by far the quickest and most efficient at moving to remote sessions during the pandemic. It was really impressive.”Adrian Hilderly, First Sentier Investors
OVERALL, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF First Sentier Investors’ PARTNERSHIP WITH CREATE?
Sarah: It’s a fantastic partnership. The way the funding is deployed, and the programmes are devised, there’s obviously a lot of work behind that to match what we’re funding, and to align it with investing in the community. I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to be a part of it over the last couple of years.
Adrian: I totally agree. Create is one of the best partners we work with. They’re really easy to work with, and they drive the agenda. It makes it very easy for us, because you’re clear about what your objectives are. Not everyone’s like that. And then you deliver on what you say you’re going to do. So when we check back to see if last year worked, we’ve got good evidence to prove that, and the evaluations you send through to us are great for us internally.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING PARTNERING WITH CREATE?
Sarah: I would definitely recommend Create as a charity partner. It does so much good work in many areas of our society, supporting disadvantaged groups and individuals. The team takes the time to work with you to create a targeted, bespoke programme to put your funding to work in the areas where it can make the greatest difference, and to help co-ordinate meaningful opportunities for volunteering. We really enjoy working together and look forward to our future collaboration.