Firing line  

Trying to help people use their money for good

Mr Lawson explains: “If you create a £1m charitable pot we haven’t given it away just yet. It is just sitting there.

“We give away the growth on that. Then slowly and surely clients realise they don’t need that money and we help them manage the tax so it becomes an actual pot.”

According to Mr Lawson, there is a great desire for people to give money and put back into society, and Equilibrium’s aim is to help give them clarity and purpose around this.

Having a philanthropy expert helps enormously and is “worth his weight in gold”, he says.

It is a vital development in the aims of the foundation, and for Equilibrium in terms of helping its clients most effectively. It is about learning, he says, not only for himself but in order to advise clients too.

Mr Lawson describes how the original aim of the foundation was that “businesses were to have a responsibility to do their bit and look after their communities, by default”.

He says: “It is growing more and more in a tilt away from charitable giving (pulling on the heart strings and giving small ad hoc amounts of money) to philanthropy – using time, money, resources and energy and solving a problem. In our case financial literacy, because I believe the UK is poor in this area.

“We centre on people’s passions – what are their passions and what charities match their passions?” 

Staff are also consulted on charities and causes they care about. Causes include young people, education, entrepreneurship, and the wealth divide and inequality.

Putting staff first

Supporting his staff is something Mr Lawson is very keen on. He is particularly proud of his company being listed among the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For over the past four years running. “We believe very passionately that if we put our staff first and make it rewarding and make it challenging, they put their clients first.”

He says the pandemic has offered opportunities as well. “Covid-19 has been a testing ground and learning opportunity for all the work we have done previously to lay the groundwork of care for our staff”.

In a happiness survey conducted among all staff, three words recurred to describe how they felt: supported, informed and motivated.

Mr Lawson and Ms Rigby have initiated Covid-19 emergency packs, spent a weekend writing out 90 individual cards to all staff, organised Zoom team socials and online bingo. 

“We try to maintain a personal touch and make sure staff get something from us every week”, he says.

Perhaps it is his approach of practising the principle of “doing what is right”, from home life to business life and beyond, that helps Mr Lawson maintain his balance.