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Moore Global: Putting faith into ESG

Capital Monitor sits down with Anton Colella, CEO of global accountancy firm Moore Global, to talk about accountancy, ESG and faith.

By Adrian Murdoch

Moore Global, Anton Colella, ESG
Anton Colella, CEO of Moore Global, says you need to understand the principles of the younger generation if you are to succeed. (Photo courtesy of Moore Global)
  • Companies placing importance on ESG factors have seen profits rise 9.1% and revenues grow 9.7% over the past three years, according to Moore Global.
  • Any organisation that wants to go into the ESG area will fail if its message cannot pass the younger generation, says Moore Global’s CEO...
  • “Leadership is not values-free. You bring everything to work.”

The stock photos of sustainability are familiar to everyone. There is the one with the cupped pair of hands holding some earth with a green shoot emerging, there is the one with the globe lying in a pile of ferns and there is the one showing alpine waterfalls.

Accountants and consultants (and, occasionally journalists) are particularly guilty of grabbing for these cliches.

When one tries to do something else, it jumps out. Cue global accounting firm Moore Global which is trying to approach sustainability more seriously. The company tries to put sustainability front and centre.

Back in September, Capital Monitor looked at its research that argued that companies seeking to embrace ESG principles have enjoyed higher revenues, stronger growth of profits and greater access to finance.

It was a rare move from theoretical to actual P&L. Companies across the world that claim to place an importance on ESG – defined as the company’s assessment of their own practical action over a defined time horizon – saw revenues significantly outperform those companies that openly disregard its importance between 2019 and 2022. Those that did saw a revenue bump of 9.7% versus only 4.5% for those that didn’t.

In the first of a series of interviews to understand the sustainability journeys that chief executives have made and how they are changing the culture of their industries, Capital Monitor sat down for lunch with Moore Global chief executive Anton Colella.

A need for sincerity

It is conventional to say that he is an unconventional chief executive, but he is. From an upbringing he describes as “tough”, the former teacher of religious education in one of the less salubrious parts of Glasgow became head of the Scottish Qualification Authority – the public body primarily responsible for secondary school qualifications in Scotland.

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After a move to become chief executive of the professional body for chartered accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland in 2006 he joined Moore in 2017.

It is hard to shake off the mantel of being a teacher. “I spent my life as a teacher persuading people to do things they didn’t want to do or didn’t believe they could do. All I’m doing now is translating that into a global organisation to see how we can change the world,” he says.

What is needed, he says is sincerity. Any organisation today that wants to go into the ESG area will fail if its message cannot pass the younger generation. “That generation reflects your customers, your future customers, and even your investors,” he says.

Colella is pragmatic about working with industries that have been slower to engage with ESG.

“I think there’s a recognition here that we are on a journey,” he says with some faster than others. But this is not to say that he is either naïve about the process. “The only way we’re going to do the right thing is be forced to do the right thing,” he says pointing to new regulations.

“We use sticks everywhere,” he says.

What makes Colella’s journey interesting is that he is comfortable talking about the connection between faith and sustainability. “Leadership is not values-free. You bring everything to work,” he says. “My conviction as a human being to leave the world a better place is strong and my faith fits that.”

Click below to listen to Capital Monitor’s conversation with Anton Colella, CEO of Moore Global, in full:

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