Benefiting from trust and transparency

  • 7th February 2024

Exploring the role of benefit corporations within the property investment market

B Corp certification requires a company to meet the highest standards of social and environmental consideration, transparency, and accountability

Bosses at a leading healthcare property investor are calling for an increase in the creation of benefit corporations – or B Corps – within the financial services industry.

Octopus Investments is the largest manager of Venture Capital Trusts and investments, helping to build care homes, retirement communities, and other healthcare facilities across the country.

And, in 2021, the company became a B Corp – a certification measuring an organisation’s social and environmental performance.

Benjamin Davis, chief executive of Octopus Investments, said: “B Corp certification requires a company to meet the highest standards of social and environmental consideration, transparency, and accountability, to balance profit and the impact they have.

“The movement should feel especially relevant for financial services, where trust and transparency are integral.

“Whether you’re a financial adviser guiding a client through an economic downturn, an institutional investor committing capital to a fund, or an investor investing through a platform, the whole industry relies on trust.

“Yet trust and transparency have not always been associated with our industry. In fact, I often see financial services ranked among the least-trusted industries by consumers globally.

“This is something we should strive to change and is why we should be encouraging frameworks like B Corp to drive better, more-transparent business.”

He added: “I have been at Octopus for 12 years and I can say with confidence that becoming a B Corp in 2021 was one of the best decisions we’ve made in our 23-year history.

“We’ve always known that people want to buy from, and work for, companies that out-behave and do the right thing, even when no one is watching, so becoming a B Corp was another important step for us in building a trustworthy business that makes decisions by considering all its stakeholders.”

The qualification and certification process took the company two years and has changed the way it operates.

Benjamin Davis, chief executive of Octopus Investments

Davis explains: “In every decision we look at how we can serve our shareholders, employees, customers, the environment, and the broader community.

“It’s a powerful framework that’s legally cemented into our business as we changed our Articles of Association to ensure we must consider the interests of all our stakeholders when making decisions.

“And we use that framework to help us continue to do the right thing when we set objectives, run the day-to-day business, and report on progress.”

Examples of the impact of the certification include:

  • Shareholders – the company produces a comprehensive, publicly-available annual report despite there being no obligation to do so as a privately-owned company
  • Employees – Diversity and inclusion targets build an inclusive workforce and place renewed focus on training and education
  • Customers – The company continues to provide a best-in-class service, with financial advisers voting it five stars for service nine years in a row at the Financial Adviser Service Awards
  • Environment – A net zero carbon target has been set to track emissions every year
  • Community – Volunteering is actively encouraged among employees and more than £1.5m has been donated through the foundation, Octopus Giving

Davis said: “Financial services is an industry that influences society, both in terms of customers and in deciding where money is directed and how effectively it is used.

“The industry has an enormous impact on people’s lives and the planet, and consequently we have a duty to people and planet.

“B Corp is an ideal framework to develop trust and we are looking forward to growing the ground swell of support for better business.”


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