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George & Bell Perspectives.

Socially Responsible Consulting

Socially Responsible Consulting

September 24, 2012. Category: Firm News, Investing, Social Responsibility. No Comments on Socially Responsible Consulting.
Written by Jeremy Bell.

Pension plans, benefit plans, foundations and endowments are well aware of Responsible Investing (RI).  RI is an investment strategy that integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in addition to financial factors, and its acceptance has been steadily increasing for the past 10 to 15 years.

While significant effort has been put toward RI, little attention has been put to social factors for purchasing consulting services.  At George & Bell, our Socially Responsible Consulting (SRC) means that our advice and technical support is locally sourced, benefiting clients and society.

Some major consulting firms offshore analytical tasks to India or China.  Many firms also outsource certain tasks to geographic locations, like Toronto or Montreal, to develop “centres of excellence” for significant tasks.  Common tasks that are outsourced include actuarial valuations, pension administration and investment monitoring reports.

We are opposed to offshoring and outsourcing for a number of reasons:

  • Offshoring and outsourcing impairs quality and accuracy of work.  Issues are uncovered through casual, frequent discussions between consultants and analysts. Analysts raise important points and unexpected results with consultants.  Errors are identified.  With geographic separation the opportunity for exploration and discussion diminishes.
  • Offshoring and outsourcing don’t save clients’ money.  Costs for consulting from major consulting firms have continued to rise in recent years as big firms continue to push work to central locations, inside and outside of Canada.
  • Offshoring and outsourcing hollow out the next generation of critical thinkers.  Without learning the technical details of pensions, benefits and investments, our next generation will lack a complete understanding of the challenges facing society.  If offshoring and outsourcing continue, will there be a vibrant discussion on pension policy in B.C., for example, in 30 years?  Will future consultants be reduced to a role selling and servicing a commodity produced overseas?

Current trends of offshoring and outsourcing played a role in our decision to establish George & Bell Consulting.  We were frustrated with the trend within big consulting firms.  We are committed to running our business in a more socially responsible way:

  • We will never offshore any tasks.
  • We will not outsource tasks to convenient locations.  We will hire analytical staff proportionate to the work in the geographies where we do business.  In other words: if work from Manitoba clients requires two analysts, we will hire two analysts in Manitoba. (Note, we may share work across offices.  In other words, the Manitoba analyst could work on a Vancouver project and vice versa.)
  • We are an equal-opportunity employer and treat employees fairly and with respect. We will help to build the next generation of critical thinkers in the pension, investment and benefits fields in Western Canada.

By our firm’s nature, we have significantly lower margins compared to those national and multi-national firms.  This combined with our commitments stated above mean that more money and talent will remain in Western Canada, and in each of its provinces.

We are proud to be socially responsible consultants. Our SRC commitments include fairness and accountability to clients and maintaining a small environmental footprint. 

Because of our model and SRC commitments, working with George & Bell Consulting will:

  • Yield higher quality work to clients;
  • Be less expensive for clients; and
  • Train our next generation of critical thinkers on pensions, benefits and investments.
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