The next generation – challenging the status quo in favour of sustainability

Kelly Watson
As a trustee I consider our role as being focused on helping to steward families through the challenges of life whilst assisting to protect them and their wealth. In my experience, a key part of being able to achieve this is communication, particularly listening, not something that always come naturally but which is so important. Whether it be the settlor who has a story to tell about how they made their wealth, or the beneficiary with ideas as to how to grow the trust assets with the newest biggest investment opportunity, a trustee should always be ready to listen. The needs, requirements and ideals of one beneficiary to the next are often very different, even more so across the generations.
As the world focuses more on preserving our environment and protecting the planet, trustees need to be aware that it is those generations who will feel the impact of any failures in this regard, that are focusing on the subject more and more and recognising that they have a responsibility to fight climate change and its related consequences. Where once beneficiaries might have been content to agree a target return on investments driven solely by the needs of their own lifestyle, now this is increasingly subject to ensuring that no harm is done in the process.

Next-Gen, short for next-generation, was an adjective that originally came into being to describe a product that had been developed using the latest technology and was likely to replace an existing product. In the wealth arena, it seems that it is commonly being used to describe the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next and the significant differences we as service providers are seeing between those generations.

Trustees do not have the prerogative of being able to discard the old generation in favour of the next-gen. As trustee we need to listen to this shift of focus whilst also keeping an eye on / ear out to those generations who haven’t been swept up in the same shift.

Some of the older generation still retain the view that a “traditional family” is formed of a man and a woman who are married and have naturally born children. Now “blended” families are on the rise, with same sex parents, unmarried couples, and / or nonbiological children forming a part of the mix. Legislation is evolving (in some jurisdictions at least) to keep up to date with these altered views but it is also important that trustees keep up to date and ensure that the documentation governing our families’ structures does so too.

It is no surprise that with such a significant change in what is seen as representing the “norm” that views on wealth, its management and the sharing of such wealth by the next-gen differ from those of the past. Such differences can risk leading to conflict between the generations which needs to be managed by the trustees in so far as it relates to trust assets. Where the “next-gen” might assume and expect sustainable investing to reasonably form a part of a portfolio, the “old-guard” often have to be persuaded that this is the correct approach, particularly when, in their opinion, it is only relatively recently (within the last decade or so) that the application of ESG and sustainability to investments has begun to affect returns positively rather than negatively.

As a trustee, we often have to balance the desire to actively include ESG and sustainability to meet the demands of the next-gen, against making sure that this doesn’t lead to the disinterest and refusal of the older generations to engage, whilst also being aware of the fact that as the law currently stands, impact investing should only form a limited part of a trust investment portfolio unless otherwise set out in the trust deed. Genuine arguments that have been used to persuade the older generation include:

  • “Sustainable investing can help future proof returns with regard to tipping points within the market, for example, with regard to climate change” – better to be invested in renewable energy sooner rather than later when the world is moving away from fossil fuels;

  • “Impact investing can be highly complementary to philanthropy giving a direct result in the areas in which families wish to target – e.g. clients buy significant land as a means to saving a patch of the world a piece at a time;

  • “Sustainable companies are being seen to do better long term investments than those that are not, meaning that returns are likely to be better if investments consider ESG matters” – this is something that is not always obvious and sometimes as a trustee it is for us to take the lead and stress test the portfolios against ESG criteria; or,

  • “Impact investing allows the funds to be used again and again with the returns that are generated from such investing thereby allowing ongoing impact in the chosen area to benefit, whereas philanthropy tends to be a donation which even if invested by the recipient, any return and future investment is beyond the control of the donor”.

Notwithstanding the fact that all of these points are valid, we have found that they often need to be gently positioned in the face of negative assumptions and misinterpretation of the impact of ESG and sustainability to those who have operated in a world where they are “new”. This is where the communication skills of trustees are key. The move of the next-gen towards ESG and sustainability is widely known and accepted, understanding the reservations of the older generations and navigating the route towards the requirements of the next-gen is where a trustee can show their worth by listening to each generation and balancing the interests as needed.

The next-gen are the future but as trustee, we should fail to listen to the past at our peril – both the past and present are important as we weave our way forwards.

Accuro expands commitment to matters of equality by signing up to 51 Employers Pledge to raise menopause awareness

51 Employers logo

The signing of the 51 Employers Charter represents Accuro’s commitment to ensuring we are accountable to make positive changes toward being a menopause friendly-business.

Paul Douglas, Managing Director of Accuro’s Jersey office, said: “The recognition of menopausal health is important to us at Accuro as it relates to gender, wellbeing and age equality in the workplace. Our signing of this pledge reflects our commitment to providing a supportive and inclusive environment. In doing so we aim to be a positive force for the change needed in our industry on a subject which people have previously avoided.”

Becky Hone, Chief People Officer of Accuro’s Group added: “We are delighted to publically support this pledge, and as a business with 66% of our workforce as female, we see it as a priority to take the necessary actions across our whole group to bring this pledge to life. We consider fostering an inclusive environment where everyone can be their best and feel supported in doing so as a priority. Menopause awareness is not well understood in most working environments and we want to do what we can to change this.”

Paul Douglas

Accuro Jersey is accredited by the Jersey Good Business Charter

The Jersey Good Business Charter logo

We are delighted to announce that Accuro Jersey has received the Jersey Good Business Charter Award.

The accreditation process demands ‘strong evidence of credible intent to do good in each of the five areas of the Charter’, and scrutinised our relationships with our suppliers, our clients, our people, our community, and our impact on the environment. We submitted responses to eighty questions covering these five areas, from which the Jersey Good Business Charter was able to develop a rounded assessment of our impact and our intentions, and made us a Charter Awardee.

As a business, we strive to be a force for good for people and planet and this rigorous accreditation process has been hugely rewarding, both in recognition of our efforts and for highlighting areas for our future development in line with our ethics and broader sustainability goals.

Chair of the Jersey Good Business Charter, Brendan McMahon explained “Accuro’s application sparked some brilliant conversations amongst Council and Board members about the power which lies in the hands of the finance sector to change the world. Businesses like Accuro, who have committed themselves to a vision of serving their clients, their people and the planet with equal priority, are leading a movement which will truly shift the global business landscape. Accuro should be very proud to be leading the charge in Jersey and beyond. We congratulate Accuro for their award of the Jersey Good Business Charter and we are very excited to have them as part of our growing community of Good Business.”

Paul Douglas – Managing Director of Accuro Jersey said: “We are delighted to have received the Jersey Good Business Charter accreditation. The Accuro Group is values-based and purpose-driven organisation. We recognise that our segment of the Jersey finance industry has both a responsibility and an opportunity to enable the betterment of society. The Accuro Group has enshrined into our constitutional documents our commitment to people and planet and our operating practices follow suit. We are very grateful to the Council for acknowledging our efforts in awarding us this chartered status and allowing us to become part of the Good Business community.”

Two people

Accuro’s forward-thinking business practices recognised by STEP Award

Award for Accuro

Accuro is proud to announce its fourth win of the prestigious Trust Company of the Year (midsize firm) category at the STEP Private Client Awards 2021/22. Accuro has been shortlisted for the award every year since its inception in 2017, taking home the prize four out of the last five years.

Hosted by STEP, the global professional association that promotes excellence for private client professionals, this year’s virtual award ceremony took place on the 23rd September 2021.

STEP subjects all nominees to a rigorous judging process that considers their performance, values and contributions. Its awards are highly-coveted and are the top private client industry accolade.

Accuro stands out in this industry as an independent, fully management-and-staff-owned business, leading the way as a positive force for families, society and the environment, committed to developing long-term relationships and long-term change.

Since its management buy-out in 2017, Accuro has demonstrated its willingness to challenge the status quo and set a new standard in the industry. Attracting clients from across the globe and leading professionals to join its ranks, the business has grown organically into one which now operates from offices in Jersey, Geneva, Mauritius, and London. In 2021 Accuro has welcomed more new employees than ever before.

With a strong tradition of thought-leadership in the industry, a diverse client base, and a company structure that values and recognises the contributions of all staff members as integral to its overall success, Accuro truly lives up to its name: a trust company that cares.

The judges were impressed by Accuro’s focus on ‘values and client service’. In particular, they praised the support it provides its employees, its ownership model, its healthy annual growth figures and its commitment to its values. This includes legally binding changes to its articles of association committing to having a positive impact on society and the environment.

Accuro’s CEO, Xavier Isaac, commented: « The words of the Presiding judges are particularly pleasing because they recognise the relentless efforts of our staff in their pursuit of excellence in client services, while praising at the same time Accuro for applying more sustainable and forward-thinking business practices.”

Award for Accuro

Accuro proud member of the UN Global Compact

United Nations Global Compact logo

We are delighted to announce that Accuro Fiduciary has joined the United Nations Global Compact and the UN Global Compact Network UK – a voluntary leadership platform for the development, implementation, and disclosure of responsible business practices.

With this announcement, Accuro is aligning its operations and strategies with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and taking actions that advance societal goals embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Steve Kenzie, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network UK said “We support business taking actions to advance the Sustainable Development Goals. We are delighted and encouraged by Accuro’s endorsement of our initiative.”

Xavier Isaac, CEO of Accuro commented: “As a company fully owned by its management and staff, we like to use our independence and freedom of action to promote the responsible stewardship of our business based on UN SDGs and sound universally accepted principles. We believe it is also in the best interest of our clients for us to do so.”

Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with more than 12,000 companies and 3,500 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and 69 Local Networks.

We encourage you to visit the UN Global Compact Network UK website to learn more about their work-streams.

United Nations Global Compact logo

How Mauritius can help realise the collective dream for sustainable growth

Coast

Can we choose our dreams? From an individual perspective, this is a fascinating question and surely a difficult one to answer in a few short words. However, from a collective perspective, the answer to the same question, in a location like Mauritius, is a resounding ‘yes’. Why is such an affirmative response pertinent to Mauritius in particular? The rationale is clear and simple, when examined from the societal viewpoint.

As a reputable and region-leading International Financial Centre at the gateway to the African continent, the Republic of Mauritius is a microcosm of banking, professional and investment services. The island nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been one of unprecedented support and this has set the tone for how Mauritius is looking to its future. The dream or vision of that future is positively informed by an increasing appetite for and focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues by the government and businesses in Mauritius.

Why Mauritius holds ESG close to its heart?

Although ESG is undoubtedly a rising theme all over the globe as we look to our post-pandemic world, Mauritius’ position as an island nation empowers us in particular to see just why these issues are so vital, and why they are firmly on the agenda of the Mauritius International Financial Centre.

Indeed, Mauritius is an island that sits amongst the unrivalled beauty of the Indian Ocean, with flora and fauna that is in many instances unique and exceptional to the locality. There could be no more visibly engaging reminder to international business of the importance of enshrining the need to protect this biodiversity and natural environment through commerce as well as through policy.

Environmental commitment is no longer exclusively the mandate of the philanthropic sector. The answer to addressing global problems lies in global solutions. After all, rivers and oceans know no boundaries and the flows of international business account for how strategic and commercial decisions have a wider impact on society and the environment. Consideration for these factors is encompassed within the stakeholder approach: mapping and then factoring in the impact and effect ‘in the whole view’ of commercial decisions.

Providing a framework for ESG

Addressing societal and environmental (not to mention good governance) needs and concerns cannot be haphazardly approached. Mauritius’ development in this regard looks to the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals. These are a collection of seventeen interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. Notwithstanding that they were only formulated in 2015, they are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. That means there is actually very little time for making the dream a reality. This is precisely why private businesses will need to step up to lead alongside governments and charities.

In terms of the key steps taken to date along the path to sustainability in the financial sector, the Mauritian Government announced in the Budget 2020-21 that the Bank of Mauritius would come up with a framework for Blue and Green bonds, which led to the publication of a Guide on sustainable bonds by the Bank of Mauritius in June 2021. This Guide seeks to provide an overview of the requirements and process for the issuance of Sustainable Bonds and the listing of these Bonds on Exchanges licensed in Mauritius on the one hand, and to ensure the integrity of the sustainable financing ecosystem on the island on the other, to guard against ‘greenwashing’.

The Guide also highlights that one important lesson that can be learnt from the coronavirus pandemic is that ESG factors, sustainability and resilience are very important, both for markets and economies. It underlines that Sustainable Bonds are therefore more relevant than ever to help channel sustainable finance towards recovery and long-term resilience in a post-COVID world.

How the private sector is supporting such efforts?

More broadly, Mauritius is actively seeking to bring environmental and societal themes into its framework for international business. Not just looking internally within the island itself – Mauritius’ proximity to and business access for Africa means it necessarily and altruistically has a regional view in setting the tone here. Beyond steps taken for Blue and Green bonds, ethical indices, and sustainable pledges, one of the most forward-looking steps Mauritius is taking is encouraging private business to play its part.

In practice this may comprise the amendment of a company’s constitutional documents to provide for a stakeholder approach; or resourcing supplies locally in an effort to bring positive returns to local business and community. These are self-fulfilling practices, and they make for a positive vision, which is also a necessary one for humanity and planet Earth.

The science is clear in its stark prediction of how we will all be impacted by rising sea levels. Mauritius is all too aware of that, being an island nation. The local community is behind the ethos; evidence by citizen-led efforts to clean up oil spills and other similar self-starting initiatives. Such a praiseworthy local philosophy will increasingly filter through to the world of commerce. This is why an ESG approach is not just good for the planet and society, but also in tune with the substance of the locality. That makes for much more meaningful business.

Mauritius to forge ahead in its ESG journey

This entire field is a still a new one when it comes to harmonised international standards and there is a need for global regulations and legislation to clarify, platform and empower people and businesses looking to embrace this approach.

But every journey starts with a first step – and it is clear that Mauritius is a sound starting point to pursuing our collective dream of a more positive environmental and societal future for all.

Published on 19 August 2021 in Mauritius Economic Development Board

Accuro Jersey Triathlon – Thank you

A sea

This year’s Accuro Jersey Triathlon which took place on Sunday 11th July, was a resounding success. An impressive 362 competitors entered the event, with athletes ranging from as young as 7 years old to a 67 year old participant.

We were delighted to learn that 28 people admitted to entering their first ever triathlon and one competitor only just learnt to swim 4 weeks earlier. We applaud these people for their courage and commitment.

A common theme of discussion on the day was how much people enjoyed being able to attend a community sporting occasion after what has been a long period of isolation during lockdown and were grateful to the organisers for the measures that were put in place to keep people safe.

The event provided an opportunity for individuals to challenge themselves and it also enabled funds to be raised for 3 local charities, Brightly, Dementia Jersey and the Oscar McClean Foundation. Some competitors also chose to make donations to a charity of their choice.

We are pleased to report that the Accuro Jersey Triathlon has raised £33,000 for its official charities since 2014.

Please find below a link to a video message of thanks from Paul Douglas, Managing Director of the headline sponsors Accuro Trust Jersey.

Men on the bike
Jersey Triathlon logo
Running girl

Accuro Trust Jersey flies the flag for Brighter Futures

Brighter Futures logo

Accuro is a proud supporting partner to ‘fly the flag’ for Brighter Futures.

Brighter Futures is a local charity which supports parents, families and young people in Jersey.

Since 2008, Brighter Futures has assisted over 2,200 families benefitting over 8,800 islanders. Working alongside the main carer, their educational model provides families with the tools they need to cope. Supporting 150 families at any one time, they focus on 3 key areas:

  • Relationships between parents and their children;
  • Well-being and positive mental health; and
  • Personal development and second chance learning.

The symbolic act of flying a flag provides an opportunity to raise public awareness of the Brighter Futures community spirit and impact.

We at Accuro care for our local community and part of our responsibility is to bring support to local charities and causes helping them to make a difference.

If you wish to similarly support Brighter Futures and to fly their flag, contact [email protected]

A flag

Accuro celebrates World Bee day!

A river

Accuro celebrates World Bee Day! As part of our values-led approach to business, we at Accuro have sponsored a beehive in partnership with Bees4You located in Geneva