Switchfoot Accounting has a sister firm, Switchfoot Wealth that although is a separate entity, their work is closely aligned. Both businesses are somewhat a family business as Rebecca’s husband, Seb Elwell is an IFA at Switchfoot Wealth. They offer a joined-up service that encourages business owners to link their personal financial plans with their business plans so that their business can help deliver on their personal financial and lifestyle goals now and into their later lives.
Switchfoot is all about challenging traditional perspectives and reframing the accepted default position. Rebecca says, “within the Wealth business, we have developed a sustainable first investment policy – which is the default offering— presenting ‘traditional’ investment (I prefer the term unsustainable) as the outlier moral choice. We have recently started a project to measure the carbon intensity of our impact portfolios, and we are developing a carbon offset program. Invest in the solutions, then and only then offset the residual carbon as a last resort.”
Their climate guide for small businesses, which encourages them to make small incremental changes in their businesses to help tackle climate change, was launched towards the end of 2021, with a webinar held in January 2022 to help small businesses become climate confident. This guide helps link the climate business goals into the business planning and quarterly reporting process Switchfoot use.
“Every decision has to come back to what is its effect on the climate and our business goals.”
Switchfoot started to formalise the sustainability journey they had been on by taking the impact assessment through B Corporation. Switchfoot Wealth has certified B Corporation status whereas Switchfoot Accounting has produced a list of action points to work towards certification in the future. They made this decision as “we want to walk the walk with our client's sustainability journeys.”
Part of this journey has included the purchase of an office space in Camberley which they moved into in May 2022. An energy efficiency audit was completed on the property, and they applied for a LoCASE grant, which funded 40% of the work needed to make improvements. Having made some improvement already, by the end of 2022 changes will include:
- Solar panels with batteries added to the flat roof of the office;
- LED light and motion sensors installed on all floors;
- The R22 air conditioning units to be replaced with heat pumps;
- Removal of the gas boiler and installation of electric combi boiler.
Switchfoot’s guides, business plans and accountability meetings help clients identify both adaptations and mitigations to the climate emergency.
Rebecca believes data science and interpreting data sets and measuring impacts will become much more important skill sets in the accounting profession.
“We are on a journey, and helping our clients move towards a decarbonised world is a work in progress, but every step forward counts. We as a business have a lot more to do, and we will continue to improve.”
We asked Rebecca what key message she would like to get across to members and students and the response was to start the conversation, whether that’s with clients or suppliers, on what climate change means for their businesses. “Questions can be really powerful. Climate change wasn't caused by one person or one action, and it won't be solved by one person or one action. We are in it together!”
She went on to say, “Climate change is an opportunity to reassess the way we live and treat the planet, and it doesn't need to be scary, but action is needed, not words.”