Conducting our business responsibly: An interview with Joel Ripley

  • Leanne Lancaster
  • 23 June 2022
  • 5 mins reading time

The term responsible business is essentially the same thing as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which you may have heard of before. Unfortunately, CSR has gained a bad reputation over the years due to some corporates misusing the term and treating it as more of a tick box exercise rather than the chance to make a difference.

As we have recently published our first Responsible Business Report, Joel Ripley, Chief Finance Officer and Responsible Business Network Chair, answers questions about what being a responsible business means to Schroders Personal Wealth (SPW).

Why has SPW incorporated being a responsible business into its corporate values?

SPW was established in June 2019 with the determination to bring a new, personal approach to wealth management. We have a clear vision, mission and purpose, and we are passionate advocates of the need for financial advice and the use of active investment of your savings to meet your goals.

Our principal value is that we put clients first: we never forget that we are here to serve you. However we recognise we have wider stakeholders too, including our colleagues, communities, shareholders and the environment. We believe that a responsible approach to business is a modern, progressive way to balance the needs of all of our stakeholders.

Being a responsible business underpins our ethos. We are not going to make grand statements, political compromises or ambiguous promises to take action decades in the future. Nor are we going to compromise our ability to build and implement financial plans and help our clients towards reaching their financial goals.

What are the main aims for SPW regarding responsible business?

It’s our ambition to be a sustainability leader in the wealth management sector. We aim to play our part in the global effort to reach net zero by 2050. And we aim to uphold the highest standards in our conduct with clients, colleagues, the communities in which we operate, and society as a whole.

At SPW, we always try to focus on detail. We want to get the basics right, act upon them consistently and make our society, our environment and our world a better place to live in. These actions include paying a fair living wage, treating our colleagues with dignity and respect, mitigating our impact on the environment, making a clear and transparent commitment to our customers, responsibly sourcing our supplies and paying our fair share of taxes. This report shows how we are doing this.

How will you achieve your responsible business objectives?

The launch of our first Responsible Business Report reflects just the initial phase of our journey. Our priorities in corporate responsibility for the next 12 months include the following:

  • Continue to embed our responsible business approach and achieve annual accreditation by the Good Business Charter (GBC).

  • Re-establish our commitment to enable employee volunteering, which has been adversely impacted by COVID-19. Under this arrangement, our employees can take two days of paid time off a year to volunteer for organisations such as charities or community groups during work hours.

  • Establish the SPW Charitable Foundation to promote financial inclusion across all parts of our society.

  • Gain a better understanding of the environmental impact of our supply chain and develop ways to reduce this impact.

Can you tell us a bit about what has already been done?

We have invested the time, and made the necessary changes to our business, to achieve accreditation from the GBC. We are extremely proud of this accreditation: it reflects the business standards that are important to us and which we are genuinely passionate about. However, we do acknowledge we are a young business in the early years of establishing ourselves. We know we are not perfect and recognise we have work to do.

We are deeply committed to being transparent in everything we do. An example of our transparency is that we publish our prices clearly on our website. Many of our wealth management peers do not do this.

We are a young company and so are still developing our full responsible business approach, but we have already taken some positive actions. These actions include:

  • Offsetting all carbon emissions from Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 – business travel, since founding in June 2019 up until December 2021. These are the emissions we emit and can control ourselves, those we cause indirectly and those produced by suppliers.

  • Partnered with positive climate impact organisation Furthr to plant more than 100,000 mangrove trees in 2022.

  • Set up a salary sacrifice scheme to help our colleagues buy electric cars.

  • Ensured our Adviser Academy intake includes 50% women.

Can you share your longer term plans?

As we continue on our journey as a responsible business, our key medium-term objectives include the following:

  • Implement a responsible approach to investing and stewardship in the next 12 months, following the recent launch of our new customer charter.

  • Achieve net zero carbon operations by 2030, by reducing our carbon emissions and offsetting only those unavoidable emissions.

  • Actively supporting #10,000BlackInterns initiative.

For SPW, responsible business is the way we do business and we’re committed to being the best we can be for clients, colleagues and society as a whole.

You can download our Responsible Business Report here. This details activities and developments that have already been achieved, as well as those planned, as we move further forward on our path of conducting business responsibly.

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