ESG commitment

As a responsible lender, we lend carefully and precisely. Every loan we make balances opportunities and risks, identifying and taking into account the environmental, social and governance impact of the finance we provide.

Our management structure and approach to business ensure that we can respond quickly and safely to the changes and challenges presented by our dynamic marketplace. Likewise, our approach enables us to plan effectively for the long-term, while also operating to the highest institutional standards and maintaining our position as a leading alternative real estate lending platform.

We constantly challenge ourselves to be better and do better. This approach underpins our drive to achieve better outcomes in everything we do.

We have set a target to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions from our operations by 2025 and from our lending activity by 2030. We are working hard to manage our energy usage and are offsetting residual carbon emissions. We have embarked on a carbon reduction programme across our operations, focusing on our:

  • Office and facilities management
  • Working practices to reduce unnecessary travel
  • Waste management

Later in 2021 we intend to trial a sustainable lending programme to incentivise smaller SME developers to reduce the carbon impact of their developments. Qualifying developments and developers will enjoy a lower cost of borrowing in return for substantial, evidenced reductions in the lifetime carbon impact of their developments.

We want to test a sustainable lending business model to better understand the risks and opportunities of lending sustainably, including engagement with institutional investors to assess their appetite for ESG-led sustainable lending.

If successful, by 2030 Atelier will lend solely on Net Zero carbon real estate (end-state). We plan to do this by implementing a robust carbon reduction construction standard and by offsetting residual carbon emissions through a programme of carbon offsetting.

Our management team will keep its 2030 Net Zero lending target under review, with the aim of bringing it forward if circumstances allow.

We are well placed to make a positive impact on local communities, by supporting the regeneration of brownfield sites and the upcycling and rejuvenation of existing and often unloved buildings. As financiers it isn’t possible or appropriate for us to influence the design or use of the properties we finance, but we aren’t afraid to say ‘no’ (and we do say ‘no’ regularly) if we believe a scheme isn’t for the good of the local community. By looking beyond the bricks and mortar of the schemes proposed to us, we can play a positive role in the community in a way that is rarely expected of a lender.

We are the sum of our talent and our employees are the greatest asset of the Atelier business. Caring about our people ensures our people care about our customers, and that is at the heart of our culture.

To maintain excellent employee engagement and retention rates year-on-year, we want all our employees to feel valued, have opportunities open to them, and be recognised and rewarded for doing a great job. Support for individual aspirations and having robust succession plans in place are fundamental to the future growth and stability of the business.

We are proud of our culture of health and safety. While we do not engage in construction activity directly, we have our own team of professionals (internal and external) who visit construction sites regularly and monitor health and safety as part of our monthly monitoring of loan facilities. We take the view that a well-managed site with good health and safety is a sign of a good loan that will likely perform to contract. We provide feedback, both good and bad, to developers and aren’t afraid of acting when we identify unacceptable, unmitigated non-compliance, dangers or risks.

Atelier is committed to being an inclusive employer welcoming diversity, equality, and acceptance in the workplace.

We regularly challenge ourselves and our working practices to identify how we can better attract and retain a diverse workforce. We recognise that diversity enriches our creative solutions, reduces risk through improved balance in decision making and adds value for our stakeholders.

Consistent with our Equal Opportunities Policy, we recruit, train, and reward based purely on merit and wherever possible, we work to accommodate part-time and flexible working requests for those colleagues with specific needs.

Current activities to promote and support diversity include:

  • Nurturing an open and transparent culture in which colleagues are supportive and respectful of one another
  • Being open to flexible working practices which support family and individual circumstances
  • Requiring recruitment agencies to strive to provide gender-balanced shortlists

Atelier works hard to foster a culture of collaboration and support. We understand that good people with good values will wish to look after each other, and others will want to look after them. The health and wellbeing of our colleagues is paramount, as it ensures everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential, both in and out of work. To support this aim, we focus on:

  • Reducing workplace stress by adequately resourcing the business and ensuring everyone has clear objectives
  • Providing a comfortable workplace with good facilities
  • Complete cessation of business activity over the Christmas period, and continual encouragement from the top to use all available holiday allowance
  • Ensuring everyone has a voice and is listened to
  • Free private healthcare and dedicated mental health and counselling services

Led from the top, our senior management team and committees are responsible for creating, developing, and implementing our business strategy and reporting on performance. Our board is active, engaging on the detail with all the committees that report to it, either directly or indirectly.

Our committees meet regularly and have clear objectives and a culture of challenge and improvement, including:

  • Evaluation of performance and progress against targets and initiatives
  • As part of our ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ culture, identifying, assessing and acting on key issues and risks
  • Continually reviewing strategy to ensure it remains relevant, ambitious, and focused on being better

Having a clear vision is very important. Our policy, strategy and business planning activities set a clear direction for our business and demonstrate how ESG, and doing the right thing, form a key part of our business model and decision-making process. Together these pillars underpin our business activities and enable our performance to be measured and managed.

The Atelier culture is the DNA of our business. It positively supports employee engagement, improves retention, and stimulates productivity, all of which are precious commodities and valued by our stakeholders.

Being a credit business, our people and culture are also our first line of defence and are essential in managing risk and the execution of opportunities.

The following principles underpin our culture:

  • We are Bold: we lead with conviction and aren’t scared to stand our ground
  • We are Brave: we are open to new ideas, perspectives, and technologies
  • We are Better: we are always open to improving our services, our expertise and ourselves

To secure our long-term sustainability and success, we take account of what is important to our stakeholders, and we believe this is best achieved through proactive and effective engagement. As a smaller but highly ambitious company striving to be better, we continue to develop and deepen our engagement with all stakeholders including:

  • Borrowers
  • Employees
  • Local communities
  • Regulators and Government bodies
  • Suppliers
  • Investors and funders
  • Shareholders

Our board composition and approach are focused on harnessing a range of skills, perspectives, and corporate experience. Diversity of thinking, differing views and attitudes (particularly to risk) are coupled with a deep understanding of our business, culture, and stakeholders. This drives our board to think strategically and generate sustainable long-term value.

We pride ourselves on our institutional approach and the way we conduct our business in an open and transparent manner. Our governance framework and culture are robust yet agile, enabling fast decision-making with effective oversight. Atelier’s Board’s has four principal committees.

  • Credit Committee – managing credit risk and key lending decisions
  • Portfolio Risk Committee – ensuring that our lending performs to contract for the benefit of our borrowers and stakeholders
  • Assets and Liabilities Committee – prudent treasury management not only mitigates financial risk but is an opportunity to reveal additional value in the capital stack
  • Risk Committee – this is responsible for reviewing and monitoring key risks and the effectiveness of our risk management systems

As a risk management business, the management of risk is in the DNA of Atelier, its culture, its people and is spoken as a fluent language. As such, risk management is not viewed simply as compliance but as an opportunity to seek, identify and achieve superior returns and better outcomes while mitigating risk.

This principle protects us, our stakeholders, and our borrowers as it requires a fervent adherence to the principles of responsible lending and ‘doing the right thing’.

Our practices, policy, processes, systems, and frameworks are designed and operated to the highest institutional standards, however independent assurance that these are functioning is critical. Atelier takes internal and external measures to ensure that robust and comprehensive assurance is completed, reviewed, and acted upon. The key steps are:

  • Internal assurance, reviewing and checking lending decisions
  • External review of each loan facility carried out by a leading specialist firm
  • ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ quality system to identify, assess, and act on key issues and risks
  • Currently working towards accreditation for the international standard ISO9001 Quality Management System

We act with honesty and integrity and take appropriate measures to prevent, identify and remedy malpractice. Our people understand this and act in accordance with our high standards of conduct and are actively encouraged to speak out if they witness any wrongdoing or behaviour which falls short of those standards. In support, colleagues are given direct access to an independent director.

Revealing itself in many forms, identifying and preventing financial crime is not only a legal duty but a moral one. As a business at the forefront of speciality lending, we place appropriate resources at the disposal of our financial crime team to ensure we take whatever measures are required to identify and prevent financial crime.

Our investments in financial crime awareness training and people are our first line of defence, supported by leading technologies and comprehensive and robust policies including:

  • Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy
  • Fraud Policy
  • AML, CTF and Sanctions Policy
  • Business Conduct Policy

Custom solutions

Every development is different. So is every loan. At Atelier, we provide custom property finance solutions that are designed in collaboration with developers, driven by innovation and expertise, and strive to make a positive, lasting impact.

Explore our solutions