Atticus Financial: An older generation inspires today’s change
*From an Interview Originally Published by the Burnaby Board of Trade
Atticus Financial is a leader in providing financing for energy efficiency based projects such as lighting retrofits and they are also active in providing financing options for the biomass sector, both of which help to reduce carbon emissions for their clients.
Ray Salama, President of Atticus Financial believes that running a business that is proactive in reducing its footprint is not only good value for his own business but for his clients as well.
What got you started thinking about sustainability?
I actually come by it quite naturally – my grandmother was my inspiration and a role model. She was into recycling, composting and always looking for ways to reduce waste long before it became popular – I’m talking the 1970’s here. I guess it just stuck with me as being the right thing to do.
How did you decide what was most important to tackle first?
After completing the Climate Smart training, I realized that we could do even more to reduce our environmental footprint by further reducing the amount of paper we use and spending less time traveling, so it was a combination of those two things at the same time. We try to utilize digital information rather than printing out documents as much as possible – we are in the financing business and it takes time to change people’s habits to realize that they don’t need a hard copy of everything in a file these days. The other big change is we have many of our leasing/financing specialists working from home offices now, so there’s less requirement for them to commute to an office.
Do you feel this has any impact on how you do business?
Absolutely. We get a lot more done via email now – for example, we can send out or receive information from our clients electronically, which tends to reduce paper consumption. We’ve also been able to reduce our physical space requirements, recently moving to a smaller office closer to where our key office staff live. This means lower overhead and less commuting, both of which are positive changes for the business.
What do you hope to achieve by making your business more sustainable?
It’s a combination of a few things. First, we want to “walk the talk” as they say – in addition to the usual equipment and truck leasing & financing for businesses, Atticus also finances energy efficiency projects such as lighting retrofits, boiler replacements and compressor upgrades, all of which reduce energy use for our clients. The benefit to our clients is that their monthly energy cost savings are enough to more than cover the monthly payments, so it is cash flow positive and environmentally friendly at the same time – a double positive result. The second thing we hope to achieve is just being one more advocate for sustainable business practices, reducing our own footprint and encouraging others to do the same thing.
What are your next steps and goals?
One thing that I’d really like to see is the acceptance of electronic signatures in our industry. It’s already starting to happen in the US, so I hope that we aren’t too far off. It would be a huge step in our business not to have to print out contracts and such and then we could make it even more sustainable and actually provide faster service at the same time. Once we can sort out the legal and security issues, my goal to be one of the first companies in the Canadian equipment finance industry to offer the service to our clients.
What was your motivation for joining the Pledge for a Sustainable Community and what have been its benefits?
It just seemed like a no brainer – we are already Climate Smart certified and the pledge was very much in keeping with our business philosophy, so we joined in the hopes of adding one more voice to the discussion and perhaps we can encourage others to do the same thing. The benefits to taking a sustainability pledge are not only the fact that you are doing something to keep our beautiful community healthy and sustainable, but you will also reduce your costs as a result. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?