Aurum’s ESG approach
The Aurum group has always had a strong and committed approach to sustainability, both in the way we run our business and in our approach to social responsibility. You can download our ESG Policy here, and read about our Alternative ESG Symposium here.
Our purpose as a business is to grow and protect capital. Not only our clients’ capital, but also environmental capital; our planet and species and social capital; healthcare and education. We express this through Embedded Impact®.
What is Embedded Impact®?
Aurum is an Embedded Impact® business where donations are structured to proportionately increase as firm AUM increases. Donations are made to selected environmental and humanitarian charities.
This ensures that as we grow and prosper as a business, we are using this success to create meaningful, positive impact.
Aurum also offers two specific Embedded Impact® Funds where donations are made by Aurum from advisor fees.
Environmental protection and justice
Youth empowerment | Supporting the next generation of conservation
These conferences were key global gatherings of key decision makers to determine next steps to ensure previously agreed targets are reached. Alongside this, ambitious new objectives were set on how to ensure the planet remains liveable.
Asian species | Conservation
Synchronicity Earth’s Asian Species Programme aims to catalyse conservation efforts for the region’s most threatened and overlooked species. As well as partnering with organisations working directly to protect endangered species, work is also done to build capacity by supporting efforts to diversify the sector, amplify marginalised voices within conservation, and disseminate knowledge about threatened species within local communities.
Bermuda Zoological Society (“BZS”) | Trunk Island cottage
The classroom is completely changeable so that it can it repurposed quickly into a laboratory with microscopes or wet benches for example, to private areas for changing into gear for water activities.
Trunk Island cottage allows the island to be a standalone learning centre for BZS. Without it, students would need to come back to the mainland and the aquarium to receive formal classes and during inclement weather. As such it reduces the logistics of moving children back and forth and increases the number of opportunities they can offer significantly.
Biocultural diversity programme
Recognising the vital relationship between nature and culture, Synchronicity Earth’s Biocultural Diversity Programme works to remedy this problem by supporting groups which the territories and areas conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities.
In 2022, the Biocultural Diversity Programme encouraged Indigenous voices, including youth-led initiatives, in both local and global convening spaces, increased community engagement and awareness on environmental issues and pathways, and fostered new relationships with both partners and donors.
Buglife | Conservation
Buglife’s aim is to halt the extinction of invertebrate species and to achieve sustainable populations of invertebrates and their vision is for a wildlife-rich planet where other species thrive alongside people.
To do this, Buglife are working towards the following objectives:
- Promoting the environmental importance of invertebrates and raising awareness about the challenges to their survival.
- Assisting in the development of legislation and policy that will ensure the conservation of invertebrates.
- Developing and disseminating knowledge about how to conserve invertebrates.
- Encouraging and supporting invertebrate conservation initiatives by other organisations in the UK, Europe and worldwide.
- Undertaking practical conservation projects that will contribute to achieving their aim.
Congo basin programme | Conservation
Since 2017, the Congo basin programme has supported local and grassroots organisations fighting to protect and restore the region’s biodiversity, while advocating for the rights of local and Indigenous People. The programme supports organisations in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”), where civil society has gained influence and is increasingly engaged in national reforms. Our support is guided by the clear evidence that biodiversity protection is not possible without securing forest peoples’ rights and land tenure. The programme also focuses on community led conservation and supports efforts to revive traditional conservation practices.
Freshwater programme | Conservation
Freshwater habitats host some of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on Earth. However, they are facing an urgent but largely unrecognised conservation crisis. The people and wildlife that are most impacted by their rapid loss and degradation are not receiving the attention or support they need to avoid further declines. This degradation has been exacerbated by dams which can have a devastating impact on freshwater ecosystems by impacting migratory patterns of fish, drying up of riverbeds and increased submergence of forests.
More Than Carbon | Inspiring others
2022 has been a year of consolidation for the More Than Carbon initiative. Much attention was dedicated to building the case for the holistic and locally led approach of the underlying projects at a time when voluntary carbon markets continued to grow rapidly. In collaboration with an external consultant, Synchronicity Earth have developed a methodology to help their partners estimate terrestrial carbon sequestration, whilst also showing the myriad benefits for species and communities that ensure longevity, resilience, and truly nature-positive outcomes.
More Than Carbon | Alternative Approach to Carbon Offsetting
In 2015 the Synchronicity Earth Project regeneration programme was created in collaboration with Aurum and continues to be supported by Aurum Kaleidoscope. Over time this project has evolved into the More Than Carbon programme which Synchronicity Earth use to support a range of projects which provide carbon balancing.
It places equal emphasis on nature, climate, and people, supporting work to protect biodiversity, reduce the impacts of climate change and contribute to human security, health, and wellbeing.
Aurum Kaleidoscope directly support Hutan, which is a locally based conservation organisation in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Hutan’s reforestation team, made up almost entirely of women, is working to restore a key wildlife corridor to support important local species such as Bornean orangutans and pygmy elephants.
In April 2022, COVID-19 restrictions were finally lifted in Malaysian Borneo, allowing the Hutan team to get back to its usual routine of field activities.
Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (“ORRAA”)
ORRAA’s pragmatic approach is based on climate risk and ocean risk, together equaling financial risk.
These risks threaten sustainable economic growth, entrench communities in poverty, and present the global community with ever-mounting costs. Research led by ORRAA member WWF shows that a business-as-usual trajectory entails great risk to our economies, with a cost potentially reaching up to US$8.4 trillion over the next 15 years.
However, ORRAA believes by adopting nature-based solutions these impacts can be mitigated. Marine and coastal ecosystems like coral reefs, mangroves or salt marshes offer efficient and cost-effective ways to mitigate climate risk while bringing a host of social, economic and ecological benefits.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (“IUCN”)
Donations which help to cover the core costs of the IUCN are crucial for delivery of a range of activities, including maintenance of the Red List of Threatened Species, innovation, programme development & delivery, and championing nature’s role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Aurum’s donation to core funding allows the organisation to remain strategic and deliver its mission to ‘Influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.’
IUCN | Policy engagement
The 27th UN Climate Change Conference took place from 6 November to 20 November 2022, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. COP27 was seen as bridging the gap in Climate Change where several initiatives were introduced.
The impact of the IUCN took a further step at COP15, taking an active role by engaging with major groups and stakeholders. A roadmap out of the ecological crisis towards a more nature positive was agreed and set out in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
Diversity, equity and inclusion
One to One Children’s Fund | Transforming vulnerable lives
Around the world, children are living with trauma and disease. The impact on their life chances can be devastating. One to One trains and empowers people who can best fill the critical gaps in care for those children by providing relatable role models to make healthcare more inclusive.
Africa food for thought (“AFFT”)
AFFT believes in supporting families caring for orphaned and vulnerable children. Early Childhood Development is the most important time in a person’s life and good nutrition and a nurturing environment are critical. By removing food insecurity, children are able to learn more easily and a significant improvement in academic, sporting and social performance can be seen.
A third of AFFT’s staff are former beneficiaries.
Adara – Baby Ubuntu | Early childhood health and development
Adara implements the Baby Ubuntu programme in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This programme is an early-intervention, community-based programme that supports children with a disability and their caregivers. The programme ensures caregivers understand their child’s disability and provides them with practical skills to help feed, communicate and play with the child.
Acumen | Changing the way the world tackles poverty
As a global non-profit, Acumen takes a different approach to investing. Rather than investing traditional capital, Acumen invests in philanthropic, or “patient,” capital that provides start-ups the flexibility and security to grow their business.
By making seed and early-stage investments, this enables social enterprises to validate assumptions, bring products and services to market, and begin to scale. To help their invested companies grow and scale, Acumen also provides guidance in the areas of strategy, governance, customer insights and fundraising.
A key part of Acumen’s offering is their Academy – where they provide courses to young social entrepreneurs across the globe to become social leaders and go on to operate their own NGO’s or other initiatives to tackle challenges within their local communities.
This is about supporting change at a fundamental level by ‘growing’ social entrepreneurs and facilitating their development.
Vision Bermuda | Disability and inclusion
No major renovation had taken place at Beacon House, Vision Bermuda’s home, since the early 1960s and the building deteriorated over the years. Electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems were out-dated, and an extensive renovation of Beacon House was required.
It was no longer possible to provide the full range of in-house services required due to safety, modern building code requirements and practical considerations.
The Aurum bursaries combine financial support, to cover both tuition fees and living expenses, with practical support in the form of a comprehensive internship programme and ongoing mentoring. This combined approach will remove the financial burden of higher education and provide excellent opportunities for the students in two competitive fields. From this ongoing relationship, we are building an enduring association with these students.
The internships provide an insight to both the Aurum Group and our allied charity Synchronicity Earth. As part of the internship programme, the students collaborated on projects at both Aurum’s London office and Synchronicity Earth. This has expanded their experience by providing insight into another industry. By collaborating with Synchronicity Earth, we will continue our work to enhance the links between finance and conservation.
Sierra Leone Autistic Society (“SLAS”) | Transforming vulnerable lives
Today SLAS provides much needed services in various parts of the country, and many families who receive its services claim it is a ‘life-saving’ and one-of-a-kind organisation in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world and in 2016 had the lowest life expectancy globally. Almost one in five children don’t reach their fifth birthday. Those with rare and complex conditions face little prospect of getting support and treatment. Within this resource-poor context, those with disabilities, particularly those with neurological conditions and intellectual disabilities, often face devastating social exclusion, with profound educational and livelihood consequences, contributing significantly to ill-health and poverty.
Freedom ID | Refugee support
There are millions of people globally fleeing conflict. For example, since the conflict in Ukraine started an estimate 5 million people have been displaced.
Globally, human trafficking mostly targets women and children and there are estimated to be 4.8 million people trapped in sex slavery; of those one million are children.
When people are forced to flee, they leave behind more than just their homes. Being away from their familiar surroundings, they often lose their community support networks and can end up being socially and culturally isolated. This alongside other factors can make displaced people and refugees easy targets for human traffickers who use their precarious position to exploit them. A common ruse is for traffickers to pose as volunteers and hosts to establish trust.
This number is growing and is being fuelled by psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety nets, natural disasters, political instability etc. According to the UN, this reality is worse for women who represent 51% of those trafficked and children making up a staggering 28%.
World Jewish Relief – Uyghurs | Refugee support
11,000 Uyghur people have fled China to Turkey to escape persecution, where they are living in overcrowded housing, without the right to work, income, food, healthcare or support. This extremely vulnerable community in exile has one of the most desperate plights in the word today.
Ukraine | Refugee support
By February 2023 more than 8 million Ukrainians had left their country roughly 19% of the total population and 5.9 million are displaced internally within Ukraine.
However, the situation is even more challenging for those with intellectual disabilities:
- For most people with intellectual disabilities and families it’s not possible to leave the warzone.
- For many, it is not even possible to hide in shelters because they are not accessible.
- There is severe lack of basic supplies including medicines, hygiene products, and other necessary items.
On this basis, Aurum Kaleidoscope have provided targeted support to the following programmes.
Friends of the Disabled Association (“FDA”) | Renewable Energy Project
The FDA offers advocacy and rehabilitation services to children with intellectual disabilities in its I’Dad Centre.
Over the last few years, Lebanon has been facing a number of major crises, which has led to the compounding of socio-economic difficulties of the most vulnerable residents. In particular, this has exacerbated the challenges of people with disabilities due to the weakness of the social protection system.
The FDA’s I’dad center offers a range of facilities for students with intellectual disabilities which include:
- Speech therapy and sensory rooms
- Large gymnasium for activities such as basketball, volley ball and tennis
- Hydrotherapy facilities
- Carpentry, mosaic and clay workshop facilities
- Kitchen and large dining hall
Hope and Homes for Children | Child protection
While orphanages and other institutions may have been set up with good intentions, the evidence shows that the damage caused to children living in institutions is both physical and mental and, in most cases, irreparable. This provides an urgency to ensuring children are placed within families or alternative family-type arrangements.
Empowering disabled youth
Two in five disabled children in the UK live in poverty and the annual cost of bringing up a disabled child is significantly more than a for a non-disabled child. This financial pressure combined with the day-to-day practicalities of raising a disabled child, can lead to an enormous daily strain on family life.
High unemployment figures amongst people with learning disabilities can be attributed to a lack of aspiration for people to be able to do training and work which is enforced by the very few training options available to them. This lack of aspiration is also reinforced from a number of sources ranging from parents, to teachers and employers which has led to options, such as apprenticeships not being discussed or offered to people with a learning disability.
Collaboration and engagement
Aurum Kaleidoscope Foundation
Aurum also offers two speciﬁc Embedded Impact Funds where donations are made by Aurum from investment management fees:
Aurum is an Embedded Impact® business that aims to provide profit with purpose.
Aurum’s purpose is to grow and protect its clients capital alongside environmental capital; the planet and species and social capital; healthcare and education.
More information on Aurum’s Innovative Financing approach can be found on page 37 of the report.
Over many years, Aurum has selected beneficiaries using a rigorous due diligence process and has donated to them directly. This has meant Aurum has become a long-term supporter of a wide range of organisations. The growth of the Embedded Impact approach itself led to a realisation that, in order to keep the highest fiduciary duty and to further maximise positive environmental and social impact, the due diligence of beneficiaries should be performed by an entity with an independent member that is structurally designed to exist for the public benefit.
Aurum Kaleidoscope is not a company; it is formed as a corporate body directly regulated by the charities commission. This means Aurum Kaleidoscope is solely subject to the legal framework that applies to charities and so refines the focus of the trustees to the pursuit of the charity’s
With the power to do anything which furthers its charitable purpose, Aurum Kaleidoscope is thus freed of the conflict that many companies face under the doctrine of shareholder primacy. This functional segregation provides the perfect balance for Aurum to carry out its Embedded Impact Approach.
Aurum Kaleidoscope has minimised operational expenses due to the resource support provided by the Aurum Group. Aurum Kaleidoscope does not employ any staff and does not require office space so can instead concentrate on identifying and verifying the beneficiaries of its grant making process.
Aurum Kaleidoscope’s Trustees are predominantly made up of Aurum Group colleagues but there is also an independent member who provides additional insight and oversight.
Aurum | Innovative financing
In addition to being a fully Embedded Impact business, Aurum also offers two specific Embedded Impact Funds where Aurum uses part of the profits it makes from these funds to finance donations to environmental and social causes:
- Aurum’s first Embedded Impact investment fund, launched in 2002. Aurum makes donations funded from part of the profits it realises to environmental charitable causes including Synchronicity Earth, a registered charity that supports the conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems and species at risk around the world.
- Aurum launched a second Embedded Impact fund in 2019. Aurum makes donations funded from part of the profits it realises to social causes including The Seneca Trust a charity focused on disability, health, displacement and education and environmental causes including Synchronicity Earth. This is achieved through providing grants and direct assistance to charities and organisations.
Since inception, Aurum’s Embedded Impact approach has given more than $22 million to support charitable endeavours around the world.
Alternative ESG Symposium
The agenda was curated to cut through the incessant news flow and provide information that attendees needed to know and where interest could be sparked.
When selecting panellists, the need for diversity of many dimensions, experience, age, and wider opinions was of paramount importance and this reflected well in the insightful discussions through the day.
Mobilising the hedge fund industry | Advocacy and hedge fund engagement
Aurum has a goal to galvanise the hedge fund industry to have a net positive environmental impact.
To achieve this goal, Aurum engages and collaborates with external stakeholders including underlying managers. This primarily involves candid discussion and providing educational materials and guidance on how environmental philanthropy can benefit both their businesses and wider society.
These actions help to bring together a wide range of participants to share best practice and drive change.
Manager data | Advocacy and hedge fund engagement
ESG issues are incorporated into the investment decision-making process when Aurum considers
prospective investments and when monitoring portfolio positions.
ARL’s Head of ESG provides an independent review of Aurum’s underlying managers. A key part of this is building trusted relationships to collaborate and engages and seek to positively influence and evolve ESG approaches. This differs from strategy to strategy and approaches are tailored accordingly.
Wildscreen Film Festival | Showcasing natural history
Wildscreen has a worldwide reach and uses this to spotlight the crucial role that visual media plays in communicating complex but critical science. The week of events culminates in the Panda Awards, the wildlife television and film world’s Oscar equivalent.
The Wildscreen Festival supports a global community of over 6,000 professional storytellers and conservation organisations, which influences an online audience of over 3 million and directly reaching public audiences of 100k every year. This increases people’s experience of the natural world, ensuring people feel part of it and help to protect it.
Aurum Kaleidoscope sponsored the Emerging Talent bursary and the Panda award for Sustainability.
United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
In 2021, the PRI scoring moved to a new numerical grading system ranging from 1 to 5 stars. As part of the recalibration, questions are now weighted by their relative importance to responsible investment practices and/or the PRI’s overall mission, with a multiplier applied to questions that are deemed to be of moderate or high importance.
This adjustment ensures that the highest scores are awarded to those signatories with more mature ESG programs that demonstrate leading practices within the responsible investment industry.
Comparing the last six months of 2022 to the same six months of 2021, allowing for the increase in total inbound email, malware & phishing emails blocked by the Aurum Group’s external mail scanning provider have increased by 4.8%. The overall level of cyber-attacks remains at a high level and to reduce the risk to Aurum, the Aurum Group runs a multi-supplier security model utilising independent breach databases. The majority of cyber-attacks come in the form of phishing emails as these allow the ‘bad actor’ into the system via social engineering.
Aurum Team | Playing our part
Aurum runs a programme that supports group employee fundraising by up to £1,000 annually per employee. Employees are also able to nominate a £50 birthday donation to a charity of their choice.
In 2018 Aurum introduced an employee volunteering programme, where staff are allocated two days per year to volunteer. This was enhanced in 2021 from providing London based volunteering opportunities, to the following three options:
- Access to the online volunteering platform Matchable.
- For colleagues who already have volunteering commitments, to be able to use these days for charity of their choice.
- To provide group volunteering opportunities to facilitate team building.
Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (“TCFD”)
Aurum have always been cognisant of the environmental challenges of climate change and both the risks and opportunities this has for us as a business. This TCFD reporting is an important step to strengthening our reporting and transparency in this important area.
Aurum believes a robust ESG approach is both our moral and fiduciary duty. ARL’s Head of ESG is responsible for identifying climate risks and opportunities in collaboration with ARL’s investment and operational due diligence teams. This information is provided to Aurum from both a company and investment perspective.
As well as having this formal process in place, Aurum also believes ESG is the collective responsibility of all group employees. This is reflected in ESG considerations being integrated into all group employee objectives. These objectives range from limiting personal and professional environmental impact, ensuring inclusivity in all we do and looking to drive industry and wider societal change by collaborating with other industry participants.
At a business level, the Aurum Group have taken opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint and are particularly cognisant of our suppliers and their impact on society. Further details on this can be found in the “Business Operations” section on page 50 of the report.
operations can have an impact on environmental and social issues.
The Aurum Group continually review operations, seeking ways to improve efficiency and decrease negative impact.