England

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Hermes Investment Management is one of the UK’s largest institutional asset managers, advising in both the public and private sectors. What makes Hermes stand out in the crowded market of wealth management is its values or, more likely, the CEO that cultivates them.

On a preliminary search of Saker Nusseibeh, I came across words like ‘stewardship’ or ‘responsible capitalism’, or again statements like ‘We believe that better governed companies create a better society for our investors to live in’, all things often more associated with social enterprise than high finance. I was excited to meet him.

Nusseibeh studied medieval history to PhD level and I was intrigued as to whether this critical academic training gave him a pluralist attitude and the ability to see a situation from all angles and solve it? It was an unequivocal yes. He said it is essential for any leader to think and act rationally in any situation. He champions cross collaboration, saying that when recruiting, he is most interested in candidates with diverse profiles for ‘diversity helps nurture innovation in teams’.

Something that may well have been the deal breaker in winning the title of Global Investor CEO of the year is the culture that he cultivates among his staff that gets half of their bonus each year for ‘being nice’. As vague as this may sound, Nusseibeh assures that it’s simple: ‘we reward attitude. Kindness and care towards your colleagues and clients ensure that every day runs smoothly.’

I agree with him, mentioning my training in yoga that teaches that conflict and tension are wasted energy that does not serve us and is certainly no addition to any workplace.

On a more business note, Hermes have adopted a model that helps cultivate more sustainable behavior in the world of investing, as stated in their latest published survey ‘Responsible Capitalism’: ‘Investment decisions should be about outcomes that are not purely nominal but allow savers to retire into a stable social system’.

Horyou team member Dearbhla Gavin with Saker Nusseibeh
Horyou team member Dearbhla Gavin with Saker Nusseibeh

During the interview, Nusseibeh repeatedly referred to ‘holistic profits’. Intrigued, I asked him to clarify. ‘Reasonable, sustainable companies have a social license to exist; they are part of society, their presence impacts on society and has no right to impact negatively on the majority while benefiting just the few’ he says.

I asked him about his industry predictions for the short to medium term. More specifically, did he think that sustainable business possible? That profit can exist without social cost?

He says that he has never witnessed client demand for measured social impact and transparency like he has in the last twelve months: ‘a key part of Hermes’ strategy is ‘stewardship’, i.e. being completely accountable and responsible for all that they invest in’.

Nusseibeh predicts that attitudes to environmental and social governance will be a key measure of a company’s development and growth over the next year.

Tube-riding home, I read through their survey ‘Responsible Capitalism’.

Statistics peppered each page but in keeping with what I had witnessed at the event all day, they weren’t measures of company growth or consumer confidence in the brand, but social statistics; figures illustrating female representation on boards, or diversity in the workplace, or energy efficiency. In the same vein as Bloomberg hosting a day long conference dedicated to good business, it was a sign of the times to see social impact highlighted on every page of a global asset management survey.

It is no longer the economy at one end and society at the other. As Nusseibeh said himself: ‘we own the economy, we all have a stake, we benefit and we lose out, our fate is in our own hands’.

By Dearbhla Gavin

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By Dearbhla Gavin

The Bloomberg Good Business Conference took place last Tuesday at Bloomberg HQ in London. As ‘good business’ is a relatively new phenomenon, many attendees were understandably cautious yet intrigued as to what to expect.

For me, having been with Horyou for a year now and having a working knowledge of concepts like ‘sustainability’ and ‘social impact’, it was music to my ears.

In his opening remarks, Head of Bloomberg Media Adam Freeman alluded to socially conscious business and values driven behavior, all concepts so familiar to me. I thought it could be our Horyou CEO Yonathan Parienti up on the podium and immediately felt that not only would I learn a lot but possibly be able to contribute to discussions throughout the day.

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There was a diverse mix of panelists representing the full spectrum of industry, from social entrepreneurs to sustainability and from big corporations officers to professors; there were truly interactive and multidisciplinary discussions.

Rupert Younger, Director of the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation highlighted the importance of this interactive diversity, stating that it’s the ‘connectivity of stakeholder groups’ that can facilitate progress.

Other topics included the role of Government and policy in facilitating good business, the evolution of Formula E, harnessing new technology in motorsport and, my favorite of the day, how to attract and retain millennial talent.

As I technically come under the umbrella of ‘millennial’ (born between the late 1980’s and 1990’s), I could relate to everything that the panel expressed but what’s more, the subjects discussed got me excited like someone starting out in a career.

The heads of recruitment from Barclays, SAP and Ernst and Young gave their account on how they had to rapidly reform not only their recruitment policy but also the package that they offer to prospective employees in order to better compete with start-ups over attracting talent.

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Steering away from straight A’s in favor of evidence of community participation, the panelist insistence went to factors like flexitime and opportunity to test out the water in other departments: all things that companies have to consider in the race for talent. I can vouch for myself and everyone I know in saying that millennials will not work the same way as the previous generations.

We don’t want a job where we’re living for the weekend, we want a purposeful career, whether it is us benefiting individually or society as a whole.

We think and talk about our jobs outside of the office and we’re willing to put in the extra hours if it means a task get done but in return we want to feel valued, be granted mobility to work out of office if so we want and anything else that will encourage us giving our 100%.

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Overall,I thought this whole event was something more than just another conference on a rainy day in London. Distinguished businessmen, academics and journalists who gather at one of the world’s leading business news organizations is nothing new but what made this event different is its agenda. Talk of “maximizing profit” was replaced by “ESG” (environmental social governance) and “Dividends to shareholders” was replaced by “returns to society”.

This may all sound very Utopian; will CEO’s and shareholders really reform their bottom line and forgo monetary profits for doing good in society? The answer is surely yet to be found.

However, one of the main takeaways of the day was that it is not a zero sum game and there doesn’t need to be a choice. Doing good is actually good for business. The next generation of consumer and investor is demanding more from a company. They will give their support only to those who can show they are making a positive impact on society, whether they are choosing a more environment friendly way of doing business or simply are being more transparent with their workforce. Garnering clear support from stakeholders across all industry, the Bloomberg Good Business Conference was truly a sign of the times. It will take a concerted effort to make change but the will is there. I look forward to seeing how far we’ve come at the next BGBC.

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