When it comes to companies that are doing CSR well, there’s a lot that could be learnt from the Sydney-based office of ICAP, a markets operator and provider of post trade risk mitigation and information services. We caught up with the inspirational CEO at the helm of ICAP’s Australian and New Zealand offices, Brad Howell.
ICAP's Work The first thing that springs to mind when most think of ICAP’s philanthropic work is its hugely successful annual Charity Day. Started by the London office in 1993, it has grown steadily over the last 22 years and become an integral part of the ICAP brand and culture. Last year, ICAP Charity Day raised £8m across its global network of offices, helping some 200 charities and bringing the total raised since its inception to over £120m.
“On this one day all the brokers donate 100% of their commissions to charity,” explains Howell. “However what really gets me is how the staff approach it with such enthusiasm and excitement. It’s great. They get dressed up and they really get into it. There are trophies for best dressed for each desk, and they go to great lengths to dress up to theme. It’s such a fun day.”
While ICAP Charity Day is a global event shared across ICAP’s network of offices, local charities are among the 200 that benefitted from last year’s fundraising. “We ask our clients and staff to nominate the charities. We tend to focus on local, smaller charities, such as those that staff or clients have a personal connection to. From that list we try to get 12 charities, sometimes we get 16, as it’s hard to say ‘no’. We try to rotate them each year,” explains Howell of how charities are chosen.
The nominated charities also attend and are part of the fun on the actual day – which usually falls in the first or second week of December. “We invite the charities, along with the celebrities and ambassadors, to meet the brokers on the day,” says Howell. “They are blown away by their enthusiasm. They walk around on the floor and talk to people on the phone. It’s great.”
ICAP's Projects “One project we undertook for Charity Day was around cancer. There was a lot of our staff that had lost their loved ones to cancer that year, so we contacted people to see what we could do. We found a charity that was developing a smart drug. It cost $250,000 for the machine and a scientist. They said if they had that they could document and run clinical trials and everything else. We agreed to buy the machine and fund the hiring of the scientist and the hospital for two years,” says Howell. “That was one that really brought people in. That was the biggest project that we have undertaken.”
Benojo is used to help with the management, tracking and reporting of campaigns such as ICAP Charity Day. Howell notes that Benojo helps capture and present outcomes, while also serving as a record of the fundraising journey for staff, beyond the initial excitement of the day.
Brad's personal work Howell is a CEO who leads by example, pursuing philanthropic projects of his own, including as an ambassador and corporate supporter of the Royal Far West and Cure our Kids. He also is one of four founders of non-profit charity fund Market Rock. A country boy who has been playing in bands since he was 15, Brad, his brother Jason and friend Victor Gugger organised a market music fundraising event back in 2001. Teaming up with other members of the finance industry, they played their first concert to a crowd of 100 people. The years that followed saw it grow to audiences of over 900 with showcases of six bands, including big name musicians.
The result was the establishing of Market Rock, as a non-profit fund and annual fundraising industry event, and close to $1m raised over 13 years to fund music therapists for the oncology ward at the Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney’s west. Howell is humble but proud of Market Rock’s work to date.
The feel-good element of CSR is something Howell believes is an important part of the ICAP culture and team. “We have the longest staff retention in our industry in Australia, and Charity Day is a big part of that. Our culture retains our staff, it’s not just about financial rewards.”
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