First Impressions

Our Investment Manager Simon Meldrum introduces himself, and shares some reflections on arriving in the Social Investment world...

It’s been 3 months or so since I joined Access and I haven’t posted a blog until now. So while it’s probably overdue, I was really just hoping that they would forget and I wouldn’t have to write them. No chance… so here goes nothing.

It’s my first time posting and my first entry for Access so it seems an introduction is in order. Hello, cyberworld. I am Simon, you can read my bio on the staff page if you’d like to see my professional background but here’s a little flavour of me and my first impressions. I am white, middle aged and middle class. Hardly surprising given nearly everybody else I’ve met in social investment is too: why isn’t there more diversity? It’s the sector’s Achilles heel and while many of my colleagues are female, the ethnic and social diversity seems much lower than in the City of London where I spent the majority of my professional career. I think that’s a shame and it’s sad. Why isn’t the sector attracting more diverse talent?

If you’re reading this, drop me a line on it: which is a link back to the theme of this blog and my day job – aiming to be direct, honest, open and approachable. It’s certainly my experience of Access in the first few months.  While it’s generally true of the sector there is a real commitment to it here at Access. So feel free to get in touch anytime. Phone is good: we want Access to be transparent, simple, focused and consistent. The commitment to that is really core to our organisation, as our Trustees demonstrated and reminded us at a recent Board Meeting:  say it as you see it. See my comments above! We also aim to be open and transparent. We just anonymously surveyed our first 25 or so applicants and will be sharing their feedback next blog. 

At Access, we recognise we don’t have all the answers or even many of them but we aim to listen, learn and improve. We are not going to get everything right (and certainly not at the beginning), nor will every decision be correct. However we do genuinely want your application to the Growth Fund to succeed for the right reasons. That often means a bit of tough love, applying some rigour and asking folks to take a long hard look in the mirror. All of us. All the time. See my comments above, again.

Sometimes it means rejecting an application but we will tell you why as quickly and clearly. My goal is that even if you disagree with our rationale, our reasons will be readily understood, justifiable and provided promptly. In subsequent blogs I will share some of the common ingredients that we have observed going into the recipe of successful applications: those aspects, themes or issues that are well received, important to our agenda and make strong applications to the Growth Fund.

In the meantime, if you have a question pick up the phone and ask: it’s what I do, and we are here to help. My next blog will also be explaining what I, Access and the Growth Fund do in clear and easy language so my Mum can understand!

Finally, you should know that we had an important meeting this week with our Investment Committee that left me excited for the Growth Fund future direction and trajectory. But I’ll leave Seb to blog about that.