This document summarises the approach of Vitruvian Partners LLP and its subsidiaries/affiliates (together “Vitruvian”) to the environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) and stewardship aspects of its activities; a full version is shared with our Limited Partner investors (“LPs”). This approach applies to the strategy and operations of Vitruvian itself and those of the portfolio companies in which Vitruvian chooses to invest on behalf of the Funds it manages.
Vitruvian’s ESG considerations operate in the service of making the highest standard of financial returns (and risk adjusted financial returns). Vitruvian has been ranked in the Top 1% of 500+ firms globally for two years running (2021/2022) for long-term financial returns by Dow Jones.
- Since its inception in 2006 Vitruvian has believed in the potential for a well-designed and well-implemented ESG approach to be of positive societal value generally but also of positive economic value to any business, through the enhancement of revenues and reputation on the one hand and the reduction of risks and costs on the other;
- Vitruvian further believes that private equity managers such as itself are well-positioned to contribute to the management of ESG opportunities and risks because of their partnership with portfolio company investments. Moreover, such stewardship not only contributes to maximising investment returns for LPs but also to assisting LPs to fulfil their duty to act in the best long-term interests of their beneficiaries and thereby create a better society for current and future generations. Vitruvian is a signatory to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment.
- Sound ESG considerations and active stewardship underlie many of the management practices embedded from the outset into Vitruvian’s business principles, governance procedures and everyday work practices, as they relate to Vitruvian’s own activities and its interactions with portfolio companies. Vitruvian is committed to the objective of continuing improvement in its practices and its alignment with the PRI. As a result, the firm maintains its ESG and stewardship framework as a constantly evolving ‘work in progress’ which will continue to be developed and adapted over time.
The core ESG principles which Vitruvian seeks to follow, and in the case of its portfolio companies, to the extent that Vitruvian can reasonably do so, are as follows:
- Assessment of significant ESG risks within strategy and operations against relevant best practices (with appropriate targets and timelines).
- Adoption into management practices at the outset of the fund’s investment appropriate best practices and standards. These would always be specific to the portfolio company’s specific circumstances so may or may not have elements in common with other portfolio companies.
- Compliance not only with applicable environmental, social (such as health, safety, labour) and governance laws and regulations but also the best practices and standards agreed between the portfolio company and Vitruvian at the outset of the fund’s investment. Conflicts of interest are monitored continuously, as outlined in our Conflicts of Interest Policy available to our LPs.
- Measurement and reporting of progress against agreed objectives for different aspects of ESG performance;
- Disclosure and discussion in a transparent and timely manner of any irregular material developments, both positive and negative, subject to related confidentiality considerations to our LPs.
The practices set out below represent examples of incumbent procedures within Vitruvian and its portfolio companies which it maintains in order to comply with the ESG principles described above. The starting point for the development of these procedures has been Vitruvian’s assessment of its own and the portfolio’s ‘ESG risk-profile.’ This has informed both the nature and extent of ESG and stewardship related practices. Vitruvian’s assessment of its own and its fund portfolio’s ESG risk profile is “low” in both cases. The reasons for this assessment are set out in summary below:
- Vitruvian itself employs a team of qualified and experienced individuals who work in developed metropolitan labour markets, and the business operates within the Financial Services sector which imposes an additional layer of specific regulatory compliance standards.
- Vitruvian’s target and actual portfolio companies are typically established, profitable businesses with experienced senior managers; they are predominantly headquartered in Europe, the US and other developed countries with stable governments and well-enforced laws; and additionally, they typically provide services, not physical products so have relatively little direct impact on the environment as compared with many manufacturing businesses.
3.1 Practices within Vitruvian
- We seek to implement environmental best practices, having been operationally carbon neutral as a firm since 2019 and carbon negative from 2022. This includes measuring and offsetting emissions including flights, data centre energy use, employee commuting and WFH.
- We place an emphasis on the efficient use of natural resources and protection of the environment wherever possible, including investing in energy-saving office mechanisms, (e.g. movement-detecting lighting sensors and thermostatic climate control) and encouraging routine usage of paper recycling bins and print reduction programs.
- An actively managed firm culture whereby partners, employees and service providers/contractors alike are treated with fairness and respect for their personal dignity and physical well-being.
- Reinforcement of a culture where individuals provide support and encouragement for other individuals’ commitments to not-for-profit or charitable activities in the community.
- An actively managed firm culture which emphasises high standards of integrity, fairness, diligence, and respect in all business dealings.
3.2 Practices within portfolio companies
- Due diligence pre-investment encompassing ESG factors, through dedicated due diligence initially conducted in-house. Other commercial, legal or technology due diligence work streams may also cover detailed ESG diligence where relevant.
Effective governance structures:
- Appropriately sized and staffed boards of directors;
- Appropriate oversight via for example, audit committees, remuneration committees and any other required governance committees;
- Enforcement of compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, e.g. annual anti-bribery training and certification;
- Encouragement of appropriately sized teams to address for example, health and safety matters, legal and compliance, HR and quality control where relevant;
- Where relevant accessibility for, and engagement with, relevant stakeholders (e.g. pension trustees), either directly or through representatives of portfolio companies as appropriate;
- A long-term sustainable growth focus to benefit multiple stakeholders, which necessarily includes consideration of ESG matters;
Monitoring and Reporting
- Periodic reporting on key environmental, social and governance matters.
4. CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate change is a systemic risk that will have a wide-ranging impact on all aspects of the economy and society.
In addition to assessing climate risk at a portfolio level, in line with TCFD recommendations, climate change is also considered as a core macro change driver and is analysed from the perspective of investment opportunity.
Our exclusion policy excludes investment in fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil, and oil/tar sands), production, extraction, or ancillary services.
We engage with our portfolio companies to implement environmental best practices relevant to their sector and company-specific circumstances in so far as possible.
5. UNITED NATIONS PRINCIPLES FOR RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT (“PRI”)
As institutional investors, we have a duty to act in the best long-term interests of our beneficiaries. In this fiduciary role, we believe that environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues can affect the performance of investment portfolios (to varying degrees across companies, sectors, regions, asset classes and through time). We also recognise that applying these Principles may better align investors with broader objectives of society. Therefore, where consistent with our fiduciary responsibilities, we commit to the following:
- Principle 1: We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
- Principle 2: We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
- Principle 3: We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
- Principle 4: We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
- Principle 5: We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
- Principle 6: We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.