Firing line  

Trying to help people use their money for good

Trying to help people use their money for good

Colin Lawson is trying to strike the perfect balance.

The director of wealth management company Equilibrium Financial Planning believes doing good by his family, staff and clients can be matched fairly with giving back to wider society.

It is Mr Lawson’s self-confessed objective to “always do the right thing”, no matter how difficult or challenging.

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In his latest bid to achieve a positive outcome that is a win-win for his company and clients and the greater good, he has appointed a philanthropy expert to help guide the charitable foundation he established in 2010 towards donating Equilibrium’s surplus income to charity.

Inspired by the huge needs of charities, which have increased due to the Covid-19 crisis, Mr Lawson, whose company recently gave away £30,000 to charitable causes, felt that the best way to efficiently and effectively mobilise goodwill, was to consult a specialist in philanthropy.

He appointed Andrew Evans, founder of Think Philanthropy, to help develop a portfolio of third-sector organisations that have a particular need and will use their donations most effectively to carry out their work.

The Equilibrium Foundation aims to donate £4m to charity by 2028.

Staff from the company sit on the foundation’s board, and there are Give as You Earn, Diamond Status and Matched Funding schemes to encourage staff and clients to support the foundation.

Striking the right balance

Mr Lawson and his wife and business partner Gaynor (who uses her original surname Rigby) believe that money should be balanced between personal interest of self and family, and then giving back to society in the form of investing in and donating to good causes.

While he and Ms Rigby have generously ensured that a fixed sum will go to their children in their wills, the rest of their resources will be left to the foundation.

“Too much money hinders wellbeing, whereas the right amount enhances it,” he says. “We want to make sure our wills enhance not hinder our children’s lives.”

This is very much the principle behind the company’s work with its clients. 

Mr Lawson aims to help make surplus money more meaningful in order to enhance wellbeing. He says: “A lot of people don’t know what the purpose of their money is. So we work on how we give them confidence and clarity to make more of the money they have got.”

At first, this could be spending money on themselves, maybe intergenerational planning and supporting family. “It’s not just [using the money] in absolute need, but you use that wealth to improve everyone’s lives.” He says that this leads into the philanthropy aspects.

He encourages clients to put aside a “pot of money” for themselves, to support their family, and then with the surplus create a “notional charitable pot”.