Adrian Bean, Investment Project Development Manager at Key Fund is retiring after 45 years in financial services, the last six of which in social investment. Ahead of his departure, here’s some key reflections and learnings from his time in the sector… 

Well.... just over 6 years working for a social investor, and it’s gone like a flash. After 45 years of providing  financial support to clients, both personal and commercial, it’s now time for a “bit of me time”.

I’ve spent all of my career working for just two employers, which in today’s world, where it is said that people on average stay in a job for just over 4 years, is highly unusual.

Ade Bean

Where it all started…

I spent the first 39 years of my career working for a high street bank, where targets, profit generation, and long hours became the norm.  In an attempt to reduce costs and bring in ‘economies of scale’, more and more clients were being moved to ‘telephone banking’ and the provision of a personal service, which I feel strongly about, was being eroded.

After deciding to retire early, I spent the next 18 months doing things that I wanted to do.  Then, out of the blue, a call came in. Would I be interested in working for an organisation called Key Fund, a not-for-profit social investor, helping charities and social enterprises gain the financial support that they needed to take their organisation forward?  

I remember my reaction: “But I’m retired and not looking for a job!” Can we chat to you about it I was asked, and like the keen angler I am, I was caught, hook, line and sinker.

A Second Career in Social Investment

Putting my many years of banking experience to good use and helping amazing organisations to further support their service users really appealed to me, driven by Key Fund's absolute commitment to its clients and its core values: Responsibility, Respect, Courage, Integrity & Purpose. My role was to lead a team of dedicated Investment Managers and to promote the support that Key Fund could provide to the sector.

Several things struck me very early on:

•    How confusing it was for organisations to find out what was available.
•    As a result, there was a lack of awareness of the support they could tap into, not just from Key Fund but from other similar investors.
•    A reluctance often to even just consider social investment, seemingly holding them back.
•    Key Funds ethos of funding clients, predominantly without asking for security, and without any credit scoring facilities i.e. old fashioned banking. 

Supporting clients in a totally honest, respectful, and understanding way is the way I work and while social investment is not for everyone, I always believed that a good understanding of it would help organisations make informed choices.

I’ve not kept a note of how many organisations my team and I have supported in the last 6 years but it’s in the hundreds.

All About Key Fund 

Key Fund has always been so positive in its support that I can’t recall us ever rejecting a request that I believed was right for the client. There is one special case that we funded though that really stands out for me.

The client provides incredible support to young, terminally ill children, and needed to raise several hundred thousand pounds to replicate their work elsewhere. After I had left, they approached the Bank that I had worked for, offering them a first charge over their property as security for the facility.

The Bank initially agreed, until it realised that there was a restrictive covenant on the property, reducing the Bank's ability to sell it should the client default. As a result the Bank withdrew their offer of support.

One of my team and I subsequently went along to discuss the same request with the client. Having been provided with the same information as the Bank, Key Fund provided the funding in full....and without any security whatsoever.  

What a difference between high street funders and Key Fund!

Final thoughts and reflections…

My key message to those working within social investment, especially those coming from  a private sector background, is be approachable, honest, upfront in your dealings with potential clients and above all, patient.

This is often a new thing for clients to consider, they can be nervous, and need time to have full discussions with their boards etc.

To charities and social enterprises,  whether your need is big or small, whatever the purpose is, explore the options with us. Like you and your Boards, we will undertake our due diligence, usually at 2-3 levels, to ensure that the request appears to be the right thing for you. The process is straightforward and is certainly not as lonely a journey as you think. We will hold your hand all the way.

I have LOVED my last six years, and it has been a true pleasure to have helped so many clients move forward in a way that was right for them. I wish them all the very best going forward.

Everyone at Good Finance would like to say a huge thank you to Ade for all his help, support and guidance over the last 6 years. He will be missed, but we wish him all the best and a very happy retirement! 

As Ade pointed out above, it can be confusing for organisations at the start of their journey with social investment, in terms of knowing where to go for help and guidance. We're biased, but our website features a number of tools and resources that can help with this - why not start by completing the 'Is It Right For Us?' tool? 

In addition, Key Fund is one of many investors we have on our Fundmapper tool, and one of the 80% listed there that is also a social enterprise itself. It can take a while to find your perfect match, so why not browse today to see which social investor is most aligned with your values?