ESG at Aquis
In its role as a disruptor, Aquis’ aim has always been to improve financial markets by maintaining the utmost transparency and least market toxicity for the benefit of the end investor. In this way we reduce both the explicit and implicit costs of trading that are borne by investors. In addition, the Group is also focused on stimulating growth in the economy by listening to the needs of issuers and creating a supportive, fair and low-cost environment for capital raisers to list instruments, particularly for innovative growth companies, while ensuring an appropriate balance of investor protection. Aquis also recognises the pivotal role we have in educating issuers about ESG and how they can set and achieve goals and facilitate disclosure to investors.
ESG for AQSE companies
ESG refers to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors that help companies understand their impact on the environment and society. Applying ESG objectives supports companies in further understanding how they can operate more sustainably for the benefit of all stakeholders, the communities they service, and the planet.
The E for environmental encompasses the effect that companies’ activities have on the environment – directly or indirectly.
The S for social includes the impact that a company has on its social environment in the community.
The G for governance refers to the company’s corporate governance – for example, the composition and diversity of its Board of Directors, transparency policies for its public information, or its codes of conduct.
Our culture, diversity and employee well-being
Our culture is one of trust, openness and excellence. We work in a collaborative style and we take collective responsibility for our successes and our failures. The Group is committed to ethical business conduct and expects the highest standards of integrity to be followed by the Directors and all employees. The Aquis Group culture is underpinned by the following core values:
Companies of all sizes should be thinking about the key the environmental, social and governance factors that affect their business and developing a plan to ensure they are building the foundations for a more sustainable future.
The Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA) has produced a practical guide to ESG with a particular focus on small and medium companies. The Guide outlines how company boards and senior management teams should take ownership of their ESG story and start the conversation with their investors. The Guide then details five steps that companies can take to further develop their approach to ESG.
To access the Guide, please click here.
- Overall 2022 Score
To understand our ESG commitments and responsibilities more fully, Aquis has been working with ESGmark, an agency that helps companies to navigate their ESG journey and to promote ESG credentials to stakeholders. Through this process we are learning more about how to operate in the best way for employees, our community and the environment. To this effect, and following a rigorous due diligence process, we are pleased to report that we have been awarded the ESGmark® certification, having demonstrated a high level of performance against Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles and an ongoing commitment to positive change.
Although the day-to-day operations of our business have a relatively low impact on the environment, we have made significant progress on reducing our effect on the planet. We are on a continuous journey of improvement and know there is more we can do with respect to managing and reducing our environmental impact. We already have a number of measures in place including:
Exchange in the cloud development
Data centres operate using 100% renewable energy
Aquis HQ powered by motion sensor lighting
Plastics, glass, metal, paper, packaging and food is recycled, with 0% going to landfill
Printers are set to double-sided printing as the default, reducing paper consumption
A commitment to understand our carbon footprint and then seek where possible to reduce this in the future
In 2023 we will be working with ESGmark to evaluate the key contributors to our scope 1 and 2 emissions, as well as elements of scope 3. This assessment will quantify the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted from each of the considered contributors in the last year. Additionally, we will look to expand the pool of considered contributors in the future to account for a greater portion of our total footprint. We look forward to being able to not only share the findings but to use the information to guide our development in the future.
The Group has a Diversity and Inclusion Policy that emphasises Aquis’ desire to create a supportive and inclusive culture. We believe it is in the best interests of the company and the wider community to promote diversity and eliminate discrimination. Our aim is to ensure that all employees and job applicants are given equal opportunity and that our organisation is representative of all sections of society. Each employee is respected and valued and empowered to give their best as a result. The policy reinforces our commitment to providing equality and fairness to all in our employment and not providing less favourable facilities or treatment on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, ethnic origin, colour, nationality, national origin, religion or belief, or sex and sexual orientation. Aquis’ commitments are:
To create an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of all team members are recognised and valued
To create a working environment that promotes dignity and respect for every employee
To not tolerate any form of intimidation, bullying, or harassment, and to discipline those that breach this policy
To make training, development, and progression opportunities available to all staff where possible
To promote equality in the workplace, which Aquis believes is good management practice and makes sound business sense
To encourage anyone who feels they have been subject to discrimination to raise their concerns so we can apply corrective measures
To encourage employees to treat everyone with dignity and respect
To regularly review all our employment practices and procedures so that fairness is maintained at all times
Aquis has the following policies in place:
Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking
We remain committed to offering flexible working conditions to all employees. Aquis has developed a Code of Conduct which has been communicated to employees, suppliers and partners and highlights the environmental, social and governance standards expected for good practise. We have also introduced a Supplier Survey to understand where our products/services are coming from and the companies we partner with.
The Ravens Wood School x Aquis Investment Club
In 2022, Aquis partnered with Ravens Wood School in Bromley to spearhead an ‘Investment Club’ scheme with A-Level Economics and Business students. Aimed at increasing financial literacy and accessibility, students received tailored talks and presentations from members of Aquis staff on aspects of the financial services industry, public markets and career advice. Students then created their own mock-up AQSE universe portfolios with an imaginary starting value of £50,000 using an app developed by Aquis fed with real price data. Students traded over summer before being invited to an awards ceremony in our office the following September, featuring guest speakers from the Financial Times. Aquis intends to continue with, and expand this programme in future.
Health and wellbeing initiatives
Our independent non-executive directors and senior managers take part in our mentoring scheme which is open to all employees, so that experience, knowledge and advice can be shared on an on-going basis.
Lunch & Learn
We host a number of ‘Lunch and Learn’ presentations where different departments, external organisations and Board members join us to talk about different areas of interest.
We encourage our employees to volunteer for charities and causes they are passionate about and we provide opportunities for then to participate in community projects, without having to take holiday days.
Green Thumb Team Competition
We have a green thumb competition to encourage our employees to grow plants and flowers in the office.
2022 saw our first Aquis Sports Day to encourage our employees to get active and stay healthy.
We have coffee meets to encourage our employees to get to know each other and build relationships.
Other employee health & wellbeing initiatives:
JP Morgan Corporate Challenge entry
London Youth Rowing event
Office fruit basket
Free sight tests
Paid-for training courses
Fitness First discount
As a leading financial organisation, we understand the importance of good governance. When Aquis listed in 2018, it voluntarily chose to follow the highest standards of corporate governance when it committed to adhering to the UK Corporate Governance Code and the Directors have implemented appropriate measures to comply, so far as practicable, with the Code. Aquis and AQSE are directly authorised and regulated by the FCA and AQEU is regulated by the ACPR and the AMF. The Group fully complies with the relevant rules and guidelines in all respects and monitors that compliance throughout the year. We present regular company updates on general group activities and strategy through our town hall presentations. All employees are invited to attend and provide questions and feedback. Recordings are also made available. In 2021 the Group established its aspirational 3-year diversity targets for the Board and for employees. These targets have been established to underpin the importance the Board places on this issue and to provide clear guidance and focus on these aspirations. Aquis encourages equity participation from staff, with all employees eligible for share ownership options and schemes.
Aquis are members of the following trade associations:
The Enterprise Investment Scheme Association (EISA)
The Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA)
FIX Trading Community (FIX)
Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI)