Sustainability/ESG

Our Purpose

Artisan Partners' purpose is to generate and compound wealth over the long-term for our clients. The wealth we generate improves retirement outcomes, pays for education, funds charitable purposes and in general improves people's lives. We are proud of our track record for the people we serve and are dedicated to continuing to improve it.

In addition to delivering for our clients, we promote success across a diverse group of associates and create sustainable financial outcomes for our shareholders. Operating ethically and with integrity are fundamental to Who We Are and to the sustainability of our firm.

 

What Sustainability Means to Us

To us, sustainability means the following:

  • Long-term relationships with the right clients, on the right terms and with the right time horizons. Capacity management that prioritizes clients’ investment returns—regardless of the impact on our short-term cash flows. Ultimately and most importantly, high value-added outcomes that help clients secure their futures and achieve their missions.
  • A deliberate process for bringing on new investment talent and launching new strategies. Patience as new talent, teams and strategies develop—prioritizing investments. Evolving—and sometimes even disrupting—our firm and franchises to increase the probability of generating successful outcomes across generations and through market cycles.
  • Compelling work in a tailored environment, with long-term opportunities for employees across our firm. Policies, benefits and a culture that promote success across a diverse group of employees—ideally over entire careers. Economic alignment in the form of variable compensation and long-duration incentive awards.
  • Growing our business value while maintaining financial discipline and continuing to generate and distribute significant cash to our shareholders. Operating ethically and with integrity. Remaining true to Who We Are as a firm and communicating with all of our stakeholders so they understand our long-term approach and that we are not attempting to engineer short-term outcomes.

 

Perspectives on Sustainability/ESG

As an investment firm, we consider sustainability/ESG matters both in our investment activities and in how we execute our business model. As they relate to our investment activities, ESG and sustainability are discussed in greater detail under Investment Activities. As they relate to the operation of our business model, ESG and sustainability are discussed in greater detail under Firmwide Sustainability/ESG.

The Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee of our board of directors has formal oversight of ESG and sustainability matters. Our CEO discusses our annual firmwide sustainability/ESG objectives with the committee and the entire board of directors and provides periodic updates on the progress made toward those objectives. Additionally, in 2020, we established an operational working group focused on supporting sustainability and ESG initiatives across the firm, with representatives from our Investment Operations, Marketing & Communications, Distribution, Legal & Compliance, Investor Relations, Information Technology, Data Governance, Human Capital, and Proxy Voting teams.

 

Investment Activities

We are a fiduciary with respect to all of our clients, meaning that the decisions we make on their behalf are made in their best interests. Our investment teams manage client assets in accordance with written investment philosophies and processes that are clearly communicated to our clients. All the assets we manage are in actively managed strategies driven by fundamental research, including consideration of material environmental, social and governance matters.

We are a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investing ("PRI"). As a signatory, we are committed to implementing six principles which include incorporating ESG matters into investment analysis and decision-making processes and reporting on our activities and progress. Our latest PRI transparency report is available here. Our Responsible Investment Policy is made available to all clients and incorporates the following key elements:

ESG Approach

An understanding of our business model is critical to understanding our approach to ESG and active ownership. Each of our investment teams owns and controls its investment philosophy, research process and portfolio decision-making. Unlike many firms, we do not have a centralized research function, chief investment officer or firmwide investment committee. Our autonomous investment team model fosters differentiation, accountability and performance. Consistent with that model, each of our investment teams takes its own approach to integrating ESG into its investment process, engaging with management teams and voting proxies.

At the firm level, we support each of our investment teams and provide them with infrastructure, resources and guidance specific to each team’s distinct investment needs. This includes access to ESG data and research, technology to effectively integrate ESG information into the investment process and assistance in executing and communicating ESG and active management practices.

As the amount of ESG data and research has multiplied and interest from clients, consultants and intermediaries has grown, we have increased our support in these areas. In 2020, we invested in subscriptions across six different providers that are dedicated either entirely or in large part to providing ESG data and research. All of our investment teams have access to at least one dedicated ESG research and data provider. Our enterprise-wide ESG data provider gives our investment teams access to dedicated research reports on over 20,000 issuers across 130 countries. We have also designed and built technology for multiple investment teams to support the integration of this data into their investment processes.

ESG Integration

While each investment team owns its unique process, all of our teams perform extensive fundamental research as part of their investment processes. Through fundamental research each team looks at a wide range of factors, including ESG factors, that they determine are meaningful to the investment opportunity. The ESG factors evaluated are highly dependent on each team’s approach, as well as the country, industry, company and management under analysis.

Embedding ESG analysis within each investment team is consistent with our autonomous investment team model and effective, as ESG research is led by those persons closest to the companies being considered. In addition to internal research, many of our investment teams use external resources to support their analysis of ESG issues. Each investment team determines the best ESG resources for its process.

Engagment

As active investors who perform fundamental research, direct engagement with company management has always been an important part of each investment team’s process. Our investment teams have thousands of meetings with companies on an annual basis. Discussions with company management allow each team to learn about a company’s perspectives and approaches, provide them with feedback and raise any issues (including ESG issues) that have been identified during the research process. These discussions are supported by deep fundamental research that goes beyond financial analysis and can include visits to company sites, meetings with employees other than senior management, meetings with suppliers, competitors and customers.

Proxy Voting

We believe that exercising proxy voting rights is a critical element of our fiduciary responsibility to our clients. We vote all shares held in the portfolios we manage unless our clients have specifically directed us not to vote or the costs or consequences of voting shares outweighs the benefits of voting. All our voting decisions are made by Artisan Partners personnel, not proxy advisory firms. When making voting decisions, we follow the process and guidelines set forth in our Proxy Voting Policy.

Except in the case of a vote posing a potential conflict of interest, ultimate voting discretion always rests with the Artisan Partners investment team whose strategy holds the shares because each autonomous investment team is closest to, and most knowledgeable about, the company whose shares we are voting. Investment teams exercise their discretion in different ways, with some teams retaining all responsibility for voting and other teams delegating the responsibility to vote to the firm’s proxy voting committee.

In all cases, the proxy voting process is overseen by the proxy voting committee, which consists of senior members of our legal and operations teams.

During the 2020 proxy voting season, we voted proxies at 570 out of 573 company meetings across 41 different countries. We voted on all shareholder proposals on a case-by-case basis, which amounted to 242 proposals, 44% of which we voted for. Additional detail regarding our proxy voting in 2020 is available here.

 

Firmwide Sustainability/ESG

Response To the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, our first priority was the health and safety of our associates, their loved ones and the broader communities that we are a part of. We provided all of our associates with technology, support and flexibility to effectively work from home and balance personal needs. We implemented additional communication channels, including a 24/7 support line, and conducted ongoing outreach to support our associates:

  • We launched a Pandemic Preparedness online resource center for our associates, which aggregated information and resources from relevant government agencies and authorities and our health insurance provider and provided advice for effectively working from home.
  • We encouraged our associates to utilize mental health resources to cope with stress and isolation during the pandemic, including: UnitedHealthcare’s Employee Assistance Program which provides 24/7 confidential guidance to navigate mental health, financial or legal concerns and Optum’s Live and Work Well and COVID-19 Resources for Wellbeing and Emotional Support Help Line as well as Crisis Counseling through the Crisis Text Line.
  • We offered firm paid flu shot vouchers to U.S. associates working from home.
  • We offered voluntary home health assessment kits to associates and spouses enrolled on our U.S. medical plan.
  • We adopted various voluntary legislative benefit plan design changes to allow associates more flexibility to make mid-year benefit change elections.

After securing our associates’ health and safety, our next priority was to support our associates so they could continue to invest and perform for our clients. We relied on our robust, well-designed and well-tested business continuity plan and our highly mobile technology. We operated effectively through this otherwise unprecedented and disruptive period, while nearly all of our associates were working from home. For additional information on our business continuity program in action, see our blog post series Evolution of a Crisis Response.

Our transparent and predictable financial model was designed to adapt to the type of market volatility experienced in 2020. More than half of our expenses adjust automatically with, and in direct proportion to, changes in our revenue. We also maintain a conservative balance sheet and ample liquidity. We did not lay-off or reduce headcount as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our financial model allowed us to remain focused on our people and their environment—so they could remain focused on performing for our clients.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest in 2020, we facilitated four charitable giving campaigns benefiting six organizations supporting pandemic relief and programs targeted at promoting social justice and diversity. We matched donations made by our associates to these campaigns in addition to those made under our Matching Gifts Program.

Business Conduct

We are committed to maintaining a culture that promotes high standards of ethics and integrity. Our Code of Business Conduct sets forth expectations of our directors and associates with respect to integrity, conflicts of interest, disclosure controls and procedures and compliance with laws, rules and regulations.

We maintain a whistle-blower policy and anonymous reporting system for the communication of employee concerns to non-management directors of our board. This policy is communicated annually to all associates and includes information regarding how to report any concern an associate may have about illegal or unethical behavior or behavior inconsistent with our culture or policies.

Our Legal and Compliance team provides oversight on compliance with new and existing laws and regulatory requirements, the firm's policies and procedures and industry standards. The team maintains a testing program, regularly reports to management, our board of directors and clients and serves as a liaison with our regulators.

All associates receive annual training on key policies and procedures including our Code of Ethics and Insider Trading Policy (which includes provisions on conflicts of interest), and our policies on gifts and business entertainment, anti‐corruption and bribery, our anti‐money laundering program, policies ensuring we know our clients and investors, and our policy on political contributions.

Our Chief Compliance Officer evaluates the effectiveness of our compliance program on an annual basis. This evaluation is based on, among other things, the results of internal and external testing and assurance activities, and our experience with respect to errors and incidents taking place during the year.

Governance

We believe strong corporate governance that prioritizes investments, talent and long-term outcomes is essential to our firm’s sustainability. Our strong corporate governance begins with our board of directors and our corporate governance practices that provide the following:

  • Director Independence—Six of the seven members of our board of directors are independent of management, including all three members of the Audit Committee, Compensation Committee and Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee.
  • Board Diversity—Our board of directors has committed to ensuring that a diverse group of qualified candidates, including candidates who would bring gender, racial and/or ethnic diversity to the board are considered in each director search. In 2020, Jennifer Barbetta joined our board of directors. Currently, two of our six independent directors are female.
  • Director Experience—We believe that our directors collectively have the skills and experience to oversee and guide our business. They have wide-ranging leadership experience and extensive knowledge of and experience in investment management, talent and technology optimization and financial and risk management.
  • Oversight of Key Business Activities and Decisions—Our board of directors establishes the strategic direction of the company and oversees key business activities including talent identification and development, risk management, compensation, and management succession.
  • Annual Assessment of Board Effectiveness—The Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee conducts an annual evaluation of the board of directors and its committees to ensure each is functioning effectively.
  • Shareholder Rights—Each share of our common stock has equal voting rights with one vote per share. Shareholders elect each of our directors annually and may contact our board directly. Shareholders may submit proposals for consideration pursuant to our Amended and Restated Bylaws.

Additional information about our corporate governance, including our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Business Conduct, Committee Composition, committee charters and biographies of each board member are on our investor relations website and can be found here.

Our People—Diversity and Inclusion

Artisan Partners’ culture has always been centered around our people. Our organization is rooted in creative perspectives and differentiated thinking. This is Who We Are as an organization.

In recognition of the importance of people to our business, in 2020 we promoted Eileen Kwei to a new executive leadership role, Chief Administrative Officer. In her role as CAO, Eileen’s focus is on our Talent Driven Business Model to further strengthen our ability to attract, develop and retain our most valuable assets—our people. Fundamental to this ability is fostering a diverse and inclusive culture and responding to the needs of a global and diversified workforce. Eileen oversees all aspects of our human capital, including diversity and inclusion, talent development and engagement and work environment, compensation and benefits.

Artisan Partners fosters a diverse and inclusive environment where our talented people can thrive. In April 2020, we formed the Artisan Partners’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee to champion the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. The committee, sponsored by members of our executive team, brings together a group of individuals with broad representation across different business units, as well as diverse social, regional and cultural identities. We believe that this multitude of experiences and backgrounds offers rich perspectives and unique viewpoints that make us stronger as a whole.

We partner with community organizations to promote diversity and inclusion, both at Artisan Partners and in the asset management industry in general. Community partners include: Code the Way, Cornell Women in Investing, Forté Foundation, JRJ Internship Program (The University of Chicago), Milwaukee River Challenge, Street Law, Inc., and the Toigo Foundation. As our firm grows, we continue to look for ways to foster diversity by developing programs of inclusion and creating opportunities for professional and personal development.

We target recruitment activities that broaden the diversity of our candidate pools. We seek candidates that are diverse in gender and ethnicity as well as those with unique global perspectives and backgrounds. We customize and target our recruiting efforts for each role. These efforts include prospecting, networking, job postings and at times, partnership with external organizations and education institutions.

We maintain equal employment opportunity and career development practices and policies. We do not tolerate discrimination and we require that associates treat all individuals with respect, courtesy and fairness. We conduct mandatory anti-harassment training for all associates, with special training for managers. Our formal harassment prevention policy describes formal complaint procedures and explicitly prohibits retaliation against any associate making a complaint.

As of December 31, 2020, 39% of our associates were women and 18% of our U.S. associates self-identified as minorities. In 2020, Tiffany Hsiao and YuanYuan Ji joined the Global Equity franchise and Anand Vasagiri and Beini Zhou joined the International Value franchise, adding to the diversity of our investment talent.

Our People—Talent Development and Engagement

Our firm is designed and operated to be an ideal home for talented investors. Everything we do is designed for our investment talent to thrive. We have a 25-year history of recruiting, retaining and developing great investment talent. We have a repeatable process for identifying unique investment leaders and partnering with them to build investment franchises with multi-generational talent. Talent development is at the heart of what we do. For an in-depth discussion of our approach to talent and franchise development, please read our 2017 Annual Report, Talent as an Art.

We are similarly focused on developing talent across the rest of our firm. We seek to recruit and hire outstanding people who thrive in broad roles and want the freedom to grow their talents and careers. We support continuing education for our associates with tuition reimbursement for applicable undergraduate, graduate, professional, and licensing education. We also actively support employee development through the programs described below. A number of these groups began as associate-led "grass-roots" initiatives and have since grown into programs that facilitate engagement and development across a broad group of our associates.

  • Our RISE program supports associates early in their career with cross functional training and networking opportunities.
  • Our ART program is a multi-year rotational training that seeks to develop future leaders within our distribution and marketing teams. Participants spend time working in three separate functional business areas, complete licensing requirements and typically pursue the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation.
  • Our CORE program (Communication Outreach Recognition Events) focuses on employee communication, appreciation and recognition, community outreach, and social events.
  • Our Women's Networking Initiative connects Artisan women across the globe and provides opportunities to build relationships, foster personal and professional development and help navigate career and life.
  • Our Training, Education and Development program provides our associates with educational and cross-functional knowledge sharing opportunities. The group surveys our associates to identify key areas of interest for programming.
  • Our Mentoring Program provides a structured way for associates to meet one another and establish mentoring relationships. The program pairs mentees with mentors based on development goals identified by mentees, provides training and education to both mentors and mentees, encourages regular meetings between mentors and mentees and facilitates programs to engage regularly.

Our People—Work Environment, Compensation and Benefits

We believe that our firm is the ideal home for passionate and independent thinkers who want to build investment franchises and own the outcomes—with as few distractions as possible.

The priority we place on investments and talent permeates our firm. Each investment team has complete autonomy over its investment process and decision-making. The environment in which each team operates is unique and individually tailored. Each team is built and resourced—and eventually evolves—in the way that works best for the team. Within each investment team, our model creates an ownership mindset marked by dedication, attention to detail, long-termism, integrity, accountability, economic alignment and pride—in short, both skin and soul in the game.

We actively work with each team to develop the traits of a sustainable investment franchise: recognizable leadership, a grounded investment philosophy and process, proven results, depth and breadth of resources, economic alignment, a unique culture and a distinctive brand. Over our history, we have launched nine investment teams. We have merged one team into another team and evolved one team into two teams. We have never shuttered a team.

While our model is designed for and around investment talent, executing the model requires talented people across our entire firm. This includes distribution professionals who can serve clients across multiple channels with minimal distractions for investment team members. And business management and operations professionals who can successfully support nine distinct investment franchises, each with its own unique needs and culture.

We employed 453 associates as of December 31, 2020. Approximately 30% of our associates work within our investment teams, 17% within our distribution teams and 53% within our business management and operations teams. Approximately 93% of our associates operate from our U.S. offices and 7% operate from our offices outside of the U.S.

As a human capital business, we focus on the environment we create for our associates, long-term economic alignment and employee benefits. We try to avoid generic "check-the-box" solutions and instead favor a tailored approach in keeping with our pursuit of great talent and differentiated outcomes. Some examples of what we do to promote success across a diverse group of associates are described below:

  • Each of our nine investment teams operates out of its own dedicated office space, which has been designed for—and in most cases by—the specific team. We believe that providing each investment team its own physical space, located where it wants to be, is important to creating the sense of ownership critical to long-term success.
  • We provide competitive compensation for our associates which we believe to be fair and merit-based. We regularly review the compensation that we pay our associates to evaluate competitiveness within our industry and within the markets where our associates work.
  • We provide equity or equity-linked incentives to all our associates. As of December 31, 2020, associates owned approximately 14% of our firm.
  • We encourage our associates to save for their retirement. We match 100% of associate 401(k) contributions dollar for dollar (fully vested), up to the IRS limit. In 2020, 70% of our U.S.-based associates took advantage of the maximum match of $19,500. We provide similar retirement benefits for our associates based outside of the US.
  • We pay 100% of our participating associates’ health care premiums, which amounted to approximately $15,800 per associate in 2020. As of December 31, 2020, between associates and their dependents, our health insurance programs covered over 1,300 people.
  • We support continuing education with tuition reimbursement for undergraduate, graduate, professional and licensing education.

In addition to the benefits noted above, we also offer our U.S.-based associates and, where applicable, associates operating from outside the U.S., the following benefits: paid time-off for vacation, sickness, bereavement, civic duty and parental leave; vision and dental insurance; health, limited purpose and dependent care savings accounts; group term life, voluntary life and long-term disability insurance; parking and commuter benefits; travel assistance services; in-office flu shot clinics; free in-office fitness centers; and, for our convenience, free in-office lunch, snacks, and beverages.

All of our benefits are available to employees regardless of title, role or responsibility.

Risk Management

We regularly assess the risks inherent in operating our business and the effectiveness of our risk management activities, which includes business continuity and privacy and information security.

Business Continuity

We maintain a business continuity management program to ensure the safety of our associates and the restoration of our critical business functions in case of natural disasters or other unexpected events. We perform formal business continuity exercises annually and targeted technology-based tests quarterly.

In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we successfully implemented aspects of our business continuity program and effectively maintained our business operations. For additional information on our business continuity program in action, see our blog post series Evolution of a Crisis Response.

Privacy and Information Security

We are engaged by our clients solely to provide investment management services. Custody of client assets and retention of records and other sensitive personal information is maintained by our clients or their third-party service providers. As a result, we come into contact with limited personal client information.

We have a dedicated information security team and maintain an information security program that is designed to protect personal client data and our own proprietary information. Our approach to information security is to prevent, detect and respond, using multiple layers of security.

Senior management oversees our information security and privacy program and our board of directors reviews our information security program at least annually. The information security program is also subject to periodic internal audits and independent third-party review. Third-party security penetration tests are performed at least annually.

Our associates receive annual, mandatory information security training, which includes updated information regarding specific policies and procedures, education on phishing attacks, social engineering, password management and privacy. New associates receive training as part of their orientation process. We also conduct phishing simulations periodically, the results of which are reported to executive management.

We have not experienced a cybersecurity breach that resulted in any material loss or misappropriation of personal information or any material impact on our applications or business processes.

Community Investment

In addition to being a great place to work for our associates, we believe that matching associate donations is an appropriate way for us to support our people and the causes they choose to support. Over our firm’s history, we have matched employee donations across a diverse range of educational, religious, cultural and other charitable organizations in the communities in which we operate and our associates live. In 2020, under our Matching Gift Program, we matched eligible associate gifts up to $2,000 per associate.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest in 2020, we facilitated four charitable giving campaigns benefiting six organizations supporting pandemic relief and programs targeted at promoting social justice and diversity. We matched donations made by our associates to these campaigns in addition to those made under our Matching Gifts Program.

We regularly partner with colleges, universities and high schools to support students and provide internship opportunities. Our associates have participated in programs across a broad range of educational institutions to provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills and network as well as promote technology innovation. Our associates have also participated by sharing their technical expertise in either a coursework or “hands on” setting. At the undergraduate and MBA level, we participate in targeted recruitment events and build community relationships to promote these efforts.

Over the last five years, we have provided paid internships for 75 students across a broad range of our teams. Internship opportunities resulted in full-time employment with Artisan Partners for 18 of our interns over the last five years. A number of the internship programs we participate in are dedicated to increasing diversity within the industry. In 2020, over 50% of our interns were ethnically diverse.

Environment

Given the industry in which we operate and the size of our workforce, we believe the environmental impact of our business operations is modest. Even so, we actively take steps to operate in an environmentally conscious manner to lessen our impact on the environment.

  • We participate in recycling programs and promote paperless technology.
  • We use energy-saving technology and energy efficient equipment, materials and techniques in our offices.
  • Our new office designs focus on utilizing renewable materials alongside improvements in light harvesting techniques to further reduce energy usage.
  • Six of our twelve U.S. office locations are in LEED certified buildings with many others having achieved Energy Star certification.
  • All of our office locations are outfitted for video conferencing and all of our associates have access to video conferencing technology, which we believe reduces business travel.

 

Looking Forward

We believe that our firm has a strong foundation for sustained success. Today, we are more capable and more diversified than ever before. Our investment teams have stable talent and strong track records. We have investment capacity in multiple strategies in asset classes that we expect will grow over time.

We will continue to develop our investment franchises and selectively add new talent, teams and strategies to further differentiate our firm. We are navigating the evolving distribution landscape, including changes in asset-allocator and owner preferences, digitization, investment vehicles and the continued growth of the private wealth channel across the world.

We will continue to evolve our approach to sustainability across the firm, including the sustainability and ESG resources available to our investment teams and our disclosures about these topics.

We are excited about our future and look forward to delivering results for clients, associates and shareholders long into the future.