How brokers are giving back through socially responsible branding

Recent research suggests that socially responsible branding is a must have for millennials and female decision makers when choosing products or services.

While brokers already play a vital role in helping people from all walks of life fund their goals and aspirations, many are also giving back to the broader community by building charitable deeds into their business practice.

Whether or not to market these deeds can be a contentious issue, but according to head of marketing and communications for the MFAA Stephen Hale, showing the good things you are doing as a business has become very important in the digital world.

Why market charitable deeds?

There have been several surveys conducted over the past five years that show a growing trend towards socially responsible branding.

“In 2015, Nielson published its annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report, which indicated that 66 per cent of consumers were willing to spend more on a product if it came from a sustainable brand,” says Hale.

“Millennials gave an even more impressive showing, with 73% indicating a similar preference.

“Eighty one percent of millennials even expected their favourite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.”

He says, according to an article published in Marketing Magazine, more than 90% of Australian female consumers believe a company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility is essential, and that this affects their purchasing and employment decisions.

“Somewhere between 70 and 80% of all financial decisions including mortgages and personal finance are made by the female in the house,” Hale adds.

“There’s an alignment between the decision maker and their needs and looking at brands that are more social or community based.”

Being a socially responsible employer

CEO and managing director of Keystone Financial, PJ Patterson, has experienced this trend firsthand when recruiting new staff. A couple of years ago a young lady he was interviewing asked him what the company was doing to give back to the community.

He told her about the way Keystone was making regular donations to 29 projects around the world in line with the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals through B1G1.

Later, the staff member told him Keystone’s involvement in this initiative was something that really impressed her and that she had been looking for an employer with a social conscience.

“She was a millennial and that was one of her key criteria for an employer.”

Patterson became involved with B1G1 in 2018 after looking for a way to make a positive impact on the world.

“I knew it when I saw it that this was perfect to bring into the business,” he says.

“It was important for me to be able to communicate this to my clients because I think people these days are really looking for businesses that are doing that and have a social conscience.

“I’ve crafted the story to my clients around the fact that because they’re supporting me and my business, I’m able to do this.”

Hale says brokers can market their good deeds in a number of ways.

“The best marketing is word-of-mouth – and many brokers simply engage their communities and help support local organisations,” he says.

“Brokers who are marketing this sort of activity are best placed to begin with Facebook and LinkedIn, and to focus on the cause as the main message, not their own good works.”

Writing Homeloans for the Homeless

Atelier Wealth also uses the B1G1 platform to make a global impact. After launching Homeloans for the Homeless in October last year, the family business provided 2,500 nights of shelter for families in need.

According to managing director Aaron Christie-David, the launch of this initiative has been a career highlight.

“We want to do good business, but we also want to do business for good,” he says.

“For every home loan that we settle, we then give 30 nights of shelter towards an underprivileged family overseas.”

He says as a business, they also take the 1% pledge which enables each staff member to take one day off every six months to volunteer for a cause that is close to their hearts.

Finding the right cause to support

Managing director of the FBAA Peter White AM says there is no defined recipe for integrating charitable deeds into a broker’s business practice.

“It comes down to what impacts your world. What it is that you want to support?” he asks.

“We find many brokers are supporting charitable organisations that they have a connection with.

“From my own point of view, my wife and I set up a registered charity called The Sanity Space Foundation to look after the mental health of parents and carers with special needs kids, because my stepdaughter is a special needs kid and we know the impact of mental health with depression and anxiety that the parents go through.”

Director of Birdie Wealth Nathan Smith decided to support anti-violence organisation Enough is Enough in early 2017 after a family friend became the victim of a fatal domestic violence incident.

“Rather than a settlement gift for a client, we’ll do a donation to Enough is Enough,” he says, explaining the company has contributed about $35,000 to the organisation so far.

Smith was also appointed as a member of the board late last year.

Unexpected benefits

Smith says the company’s involvement has come with a long list of unintended benefits, such as a more supportive team culture, PR opportunities and better customer engagement.

“These are all benefits we are seeing, which wasn’t necessarily the intention when we started, but they do come through.”

Founder of Two Red Shoes Rebecca Jarrett-Dalton says she too has experienced unexpected benefits through her involvement in domestic violence shelter The Haven.

She had been looking for a way to give back to her community when she received a phone call that would change her life.

“A girlfriend of mine called me and said we’re establishing a new charity in the local area – we need more board members,” she explains.

“My initial thought was, I can’t do that – I’ve never been on a board, I don’t know anything about the subject.”

Despite her uncertainty, she agreed to go to the first meeting – and what she found out shocked her into action.

“We sat at the table in the first meeting and the local police captain presented to us on the number of women who were seeking shelter,” she says.

“I will never forget this – it was the 17th of February in 2017 and it was midday. They stipulated, even though it’s only halfway through the day, from the 17th of January, the month prior, they had had 50 women and 95 children turned away from the existing shelter in the area.”

She took a seat on the board and with the help of Women’s Community Shelters, they established The Haven. While WCS contributes a portion of the funds needed to run the shelter, Jarrett-Dalton and the board must raise an additional $250,000 each year, which they do through various fundraising activities.

“It’s bringing all your skill sets to the table in a unique way and doing something wonderful for the community.”

She says in addition to being able to help the victims of domestic violence she has also learned a lot from being on the board that she can apply to running her own business, such as governance and risk strategies.

The best way to get involved

Hale says in order to implement charitable or good deeds into a business strategy, participation is the key.

 “Strong community ties and support for charitable causes and socially responsible programs are integral to the success of many brokers within our industry,” he says.

“Brokers align with local charities, support local sport or community programs, but the real key is not simply donating as a local business, it’s participation.

“This is really about face-to-face presence where possible to support a healthy social and business outcome.”

Brokers are making a difference

Jarrett-Dalton says brokers are in an excellent position to make the world a better place.

“Really, we are blessed as brokers. We’re going through this terrible time at the moment, and yet I think we are coming through largely unscathed,” she says.

“We can afford to be a little bit generous with our time, with our energy, with our finances. We are a pretty good bunch and this solidifies that.”

For Christie-David, the good work of brokers across the country is cause for celebration.

“Collectively, as an industry, look at how much good stuff is going on,” he says.

“If we can do well as an industry and inspire each other to find a way to give back to different communities – isn’t that what we’re all about?”