City Hive’s ACT standard and framework one year on

Co-CEO Bev Shah reflects on the tool intended to improve transparency around industry culture

At City Hive we have a luxurious position; we get to look at the industry as a whole, and we get to think about the future we want to see. We’re driven by a vision of the amazing impact our industry has the potential to have.

Globally, we are facing huge challenges. For investment firms to meet their potential to deliver positive impact, they need to have a strong culture that recognises the challenges, has an open mindset to respond to those challenges, and is able to bring in the knowledge and expertise of a wide range of people who are representative of society.

We see the increasing pressure on investment firms to demonstrate their impact and counter greenwashing concerns. Stakeholders increasingly want more evidence of how investment firms are being responsible stewards of capital.

We can also see the push for more insight into a firm’s internal world manifesting in the questions appearing on RfPs about diversity and inclusion.

But it became increasingly clear there was a gap in terms of any guidance and practical tools for firms to take action on this. So over the course of a few years, after a lot of time spent talking and then talking some more to these companies, we understood the need for a standardised way for industry to be transparent. The ACT framework and standard was born.

Organic growth

We wanted to create the safe space investment firms needed to have honest conversations about their internal culture and, a year in, with close to 100 firms reporting on ACT, we are proud to say we are now starting to witness the industry through a new lens — one that reveals a clearer, more honest picture.

It was imperative to us that we designed ACT to be accessible to all organisations, no matter their size and, excitingly, we’ve found that uptake has been from a cross section, small to large across the globe. Small firms are already using it to shape their organisations from the ground up – ACT is helping them to ask questions about their approach and pivot accordingly.

We have found that ACT has had a lot of organic growth and much of that is down to peer-to-peer conversations within our network for this very reason. We take pride in the trailblazing firms that came onboard early, boldly committing to real, long-term change. Because let’s face it, changing your culture is no longer a choice—it’s an expectation and fear of change is never the answer.

The investment industry is slowly beginning to undergo a profound shift, and transparency is at the heart of this. There is still a long way to get to best practise but steps are being taken.

We want to create positive and lasting change in our industry and building strong, open and flexible cultures will allow diversity of thought and representation that will enable better investment analysis, better investment decisions and ultimately democratise access to investing – be it for those wanting to work in our industry or to participate with their assets, or see positive real-world outcomes.