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Q&A with Charlotte Pritchard, Internal Counsel and Compliance Officer, Big Society Capital.
What does your role entail?
As head of the legal team I oversee the documentation of our social investments and provide advice and support across the organisation on broader corporate matters such as data protection, intellectual property and financial promotions. At the moment I am working with the Government on our state aid notification to the EU Commission. As Big Society Capital is an FCA regulated firm, I also manage our regulatory responsibilities.
Have you seen a change in the social investment market since working at Big Society Capital?
Definitely. On the positive side, the number of specialist fund managers and advisers has grown, more of our capital has been drawn down to reach charities and social enterprises and more people are aware of what social investment is. On the other hand, changes in Government policy have created challenges for some social investment products such as the changes to community energy impacting the community share market.
What makes you most optimistic about the social investment market in the UK?
It is a very collaborative market with a lot of passionate people.
What is the greatest challenge to building the market?
Cost. Social investment requires a return, even if it is a return lower than a purely commercial investment. However, the types of costs a commercial investment would incur are still relevant such as staff, generating investment pipeline, complying with regulatory requirements but in addition, social investors also need to measure and monitor the social impact of an investment.
What are your top 3 tips for intermediaries seeking investment from BSC?
Be prepared to articulate how your business will measure its social impact but don’t think you are alone in meeting the challenge of impact measurement and we are happy to give you guidance. Making an investment takes time but ask us if you are not clear what the overall timetable looks like or how you can expect to progress through our investment process.
Leverage your resources – speaking to advisers at the right time can save you time and cost in the long run. We have prepared a summary of some of the differences you can expect to find in our transaction documents compared to other investments which can be found here.
If you were to set up your own social enterprise, what would it be?
I have done a lot of volunteering with organisations focused on children, so probably something related to giving a better future to disadvantaged children.