Like everyone, Eben Bowditch, head of sales at Invesco Australia, was trying to navigate the abnormal and difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic and wondering about the wellbeing of others. Was everyone feeling as disconnected as he was? Bowditch started to think about a way of creating stronger links among the financial services community.
Other members of the Invesco team were thinking similar things; and in a casual catch-up in the middle of the year, Andre Roberts, Invesco Quantitative Strategies portfolio manager, suggested that a few of the team brainstorm some ideas to reach the firm’s stakeholders on a more personal level.
For Bowditch, a keen cyclist, with the Invesco mountain in view each working day, this triggered an idea he shared with the team. A thought that resulted in ‘Invesco Chase,’ a virtual cycling event for teams, to be run on October 30.
“I looked at the mountain, and ‘everesting’ popped into my head,” Bowditch says. “It’s a term in cycling, where a rider rides a single stretch of road enough times that the elevation of every ride in vertical metres eventually achieves the equivalent of Mount Everest. I thought that would make a good basis for a ‘fun ride,’ where we could invite colleagues and contacts to participate and raise some money for some good causes while connecting everyone in a fun event.”
The Invesco team settled on the concept of a virtual cycling event conducted through Zwift, a popular app that features a multiplayer online cycling and running training program. Zwift enables users to interact, train and compete in a virtual world, effectively in a game format.
The crew called their event the ‘Invesco Chase.’ It would use stationary bikes, with a ‘smart trainer,’ connected to Zwift. “Participating riders will use a stationary cycle, connected to what we call a ‘smart trainer,’ which is compatible with the Zwift program – the trainer applies the equivalent resistance to simulate the gradient of a real hill,” says Bowditch.
Invesco Chase is broken into two simultaneous events, the more challenging ‘Summit’ and a less-demanding option known as ‘Base Camp.’ Each event is undertaken by a team of four riders. In the ‘Summit’ option, teams will have three hours to complete about 8,800 metres of climbing (about 2,200 metres per rider). In the ‘Base Camp’ option, the teams will cycle to a virtual elevation of 4,400 metres (1,100 metres per rider).
“Riders will compete in real-time, and everyone will see each other’s progress in-game – we will have some other communications tools,” says Bowditch. “I’ll be a sort of ride director, everyone will be able to put up ‘billboard’ notices and so forth, people can post messages to each other while they’re riding. We’re hoping it will be competitive and fun.”
The event is designed for the financial advice and investment community with the aim of bringing people together. Most importantly, the initiative will support two charities that have become increasingly relevant during this pandemic, namely, Beyond Blue and Foodbank Australia.
“We wanted to do something that helped with the sense of isolation that we’re all faced with, and Victoria in particular, and issues of mental health and mental wellness, and the poverty-related vulnerabilities that are hugely exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic,” Bowditch says.
“This virtual sporting event is designed to connect a network of our peers and to help others beyond our industry through two outstanding charitable organisations, that are really at the front-line of the pandemic impact. But we don’t see Invesco Chase as a one-off – we hope that this can grow into something really special over time,” Bowditch adds.
The event will be held on October 30 and allows participants to ride together (virtually) in teams of colleagues or peers. Registrations are taken in teams of four, or individuals can sign up and be allocated to a team.
The Inside Network is proud to be a sponsor of the Invesco Chase.