CFI recognises Steward Redqueen as best ESG Advisory

22 May 2015 Consultancy.uk

Capital Finance International, an international oriented business and economics community, has extended Steward Redqueen the ‘Best Emerging Markets ESG Advisory Team Global Award’. According to the jury, the consulting firm can build on a “quite exceptional” suite of services, making it “the go-to consultancy” for ESG-related engagements. 

Over the past decade corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability have developed into one of the key themes on the management agenda. Dubbed as a marketing slogan by many in the early days, in recent years academics, executives and researchers have increasingly been able to unravel and highlight the positive correlation between CSR and sustainability goals with business performance. As a result, companies have followed suit and boosted their appetite for incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) parameters into day-to-day business operations.

Implementing ESG parameters into day-to-day business operations

Despite the importance given to putting processes and operations on a sustainable footing, many (still) struggle with defining and implementing ESG principles. Even some big name brands may need a helping hand – and a word of advice – to measure their impact on nature and society, and down the line embed key principles within the organisation. For support, companies typically turn to management consulting firms, such as the sustainability practices of the Big Four, the strategy consultancies, or specialised boutique firms.

One of those specialised firms is Steward Redqueen, a Netherlands-based advisory that basically makes a living with ESG and other socio-economic related topics. Founded in 2010 by Wouter Scheepens, a former SVP at ABN Amro, Steward Redqueen has since gone from strength to strength, and established itself as a reputable boutique practice in the field. The advisory operates with a core team of 16 consultants from Haarlem (Netherlands) – with satellite offices in Barcelona (Spain) and New York (USA) – complemented by a global network of associated advisors operating under the flag of the ‘SRQ Associates Network’.

Stuart Redqueen - Sustainability investment tool for BOM

Steward Redqueen’s engagements span across the globe. The firm has for instance helped Heineken gauge its impact on the emerging markets of Sub-Saharan Africa which, in turn, allowed the brewery to better engage with local communities. For BOM Capital, a global asset manager, Steward Redqueen developed a tool that enables investment professionals to incorporate ESG parameters into decision-making processes and subsequently monitor a company’s ability to manage these issues. As a result, the client may now easily embed ESG factors in its risk rating and valuation models. And for Coca-Cola the firm completed several projects, including an analysis of the soft-drink’s socio-economic contribution to the UK economy (£2.4 billion a year) as well as a similar analysis for the Croatian economy. 

On the back of its expertise, and track record, Steward Redqueen has now been placed under the spotlights by Capital Finance International (CFI), a London-based business and economics platform and journal. Each year, CFI seeks out organisations that in its view have created “significant added value to stakeholders and contributed significantly to the convergence of economies”. Nominations are received from readers and subscribers, as well as visitors to its website. An independent jury reviews submissions based on information generated during the nomination process, and at a later stage executes a thorough due diligence process on the finalists.

Wouter Scheepens en Willem Vosmer - stuart redqueen

In the category ‘Best Emerging Markets ESG Advisory Team 2015 Award’, a prize that recognises the best consultancy firms that deal with sustainability issues of the private sector, the jury has appointed Steward Redqueen the overall winner. “We consider the scope of the services provided by Steward Redqueen quite exceptional. This is not an outfit staffed by dreamers; rather Steward Redqueen keeps its eye on the bottom line, finding opportunity where others may see trouble. In fact, the firm has found more than one way of fitting square pegs into round holes. That is an accomplishment the judging panel wishes to recognise.”

Willem Vosmer, one of the partners of Steward Redqueen, says the award represents an “exceptional recognition” for the firm’s efforts. “We take great pride in assisting our clients to become frontrunners in the field of impact and sustainability. We would like to take the opportunity to thank our clients for their trust and look forward to continue working with them and other organisations.”

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Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.