Life after the ‘Big Four’ with DSW Capital plc

Pete Fendall is Business Development & Operations Director with DSW Capital plc. Since leaving Big Four firm Deloitte in 2021, he has helped to deliver its IPO on AIM, drive the growth of the business and develop its ESG strategy. We talk to Pete about his change of career and how he’s achieving his career goals at DSW.

leaving big four

 Why did you join DSW?

DSW was at a pivotal point with its imminent AIM flotation; its stellar reputation and brand resonated with me. I wanted to be part of the change in the professional services sector and use my skills to support entrepreneurs in starting their own ventures while enhancing my own knowledge and skills.

 Why did you choose to have a change from a ‘big four’ firm?

I was enjoying a successful career at Deloitte, quickly progressing through the firm, but I was at the point where I felt I was becoming too narrow and keen to seek greater variety, which led me to look at opportunities outside the firm.

I also wanted to take on more responsibility and gain greater commercial exposure. I’ve gained more experience in two years with DSW than I would have in six years with a ‘big four’ firm.

Flexibility and a greater work-life balance are often cited as reasons to exit the ‘big four’. There is definitely more flexibility with DSW, but I think it’s also about working smarter to achieve the balance you want in life.

Which achievements are you most proud of at DSW?

Listing on AIM in December 2021 was the first stepping stone in building a platform for sustainable growth and laying the foundations to grow the DSW Network. I worked closely with James Dow, one of the founders and Nicole Burstow, our Deputy CEO & CFO, throughout the IPO process. It was truly a baptism of fire, but it allowed me to throw myself into my new role, quickly getting up to speed with DSW’s unique business model and investment thesis. It was a hugely rewarding experience, from which I learnt a great deal putting me in great stead for my role at DSW.

Developing DSW’s Future Leadership programme with BecomingX and Liz Lawson, our Talent & Resourcing manager, was another high, particularly having the opportunity to participate. I believe in continual learning and development and take on board as much as possible. It was priceless to have breathing space from my day job, and I gained so much knowledge from the cohort, sharing ideas and knowing we would have the opportunity to implement them.

That’s another advantage of working at DSW compared to a ‘big four’ firm – great ideas don’t just go into the ether, as we can innovate and implement quickly.

How would you describe the DSW culture?

Many like-minded, innovative people have entrepreneurial mindsets, and everyone knows each other. Our goal is to be the most sought-after destination for ambitious professionals to develop their own businesses with DSW. These businesses are client-focused and led by committed people who are experts in their own fields. People are our priority at DSW. We help ambitious professionals achieve their full potential, and we do the same for ourselves, always adapting and challenging our mindsets.

You’ve had the opportunity to develop DSW’s ESG framework. Can you tell us about the journey?

Mostly, every potential recruit at every level asks what our ESG agenda is, and I find that really compelling. We are still in the early stages but have made great progress against our four cornerstones to help us become more responsible and sustainable.

Our cornerstones are:

  1. Social & Environmental Impact
  2. Diversity & Inclusion
  3. Empowering our People
  4. Responsible business practices

Key deliverables have included reducing our Scope 1 & 2 Emissions by 45.9% in FY23, rolling out our Diversity & Inclusion training, undertaking our first engagement survey, having a Mental Health First Aiders network and implementing Whistle-blowing & ABC policies.

Our ESG strategy has been developed by listening to our stakeholders, who increasingly value companies that have strong ESG principles at their core. We are proud to have recently established our ESG committee to drive positive changes across the organisation, and I am delighted to be part of the ESG journey here at DSW as we strive to become ‘best-in-class’.