In 2020, the IFM Investors Private Equity team refreshed its approach to integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision making and stewardship activities. The refreshed framework is built around three key pillars: enter with purpose, drive impact through ownership, and measure and report outcomes.

The team’s approach extends beyond ESG risk management, incorporating consideration of how to create and measure greater positive impact during ownership, particularly regarding social and environmental outcomes that benefit employees, customers and communities.

The refreshed framework places a strong emphasis on articulating company mission – the “Noble Purpose” that guides the pursuit of ESG outcomes that underpin long-term value creation.

The following case study is an excerpt from our 2020 Responsible Business Report. It aims to demonstrate our ESG framework and active management approach in action, outlining some of the key governance and social-related outcomes that we achieved during our first year of ownership.

Case study: My Plan Manager

My Plan Manager is a prominent Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan manager. Its mission or “noble purpose” is to create an inclusive Australia where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

For people with disabilities, this means enabling their right to exercise choice and control in the pursuit of their goals; access high quality care and support; contribute to social and economic outcomes; and live an independent life.

My Plan Manager was a founder-led and operated business prior to IFM acquiring a significant majority equity stake in 2019. Since acquisition, IFM has worked closely with the company to drive an accelerated growth strategy which delivered:

  • A greater than 70 per cent increase in client numbers;
  • Embedded measurement of employee engagement and client advocacy;
  • A complete technology transformation; and
  • Refreshed governance and controls, including a new board and leadership hires.

These outcomes helped secure My Plan Manager’s #2 ranking in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 2020 Australia program, acknowledging the business’s growth.

IFM’s active management approach aims to build leadership and sustainable competitive advantage in plan management and related services by delivering improved outcomes for over 50,000 My Plan Manager clients. We seek to do this in a way that differentiates the company as one with a distinct culture that is underpinned by the values of being kind, inclusive, genuine and innovative.

During our first year of ownership, we worked closely with management to deliver a number of ESG outcomes, primarily relating to governance and social areas, as outlined below.

Governance-related outcomes

  • A refined My Plan Manager’s “noble” purpose and values.
  • A refreshed board by introducing independent non-executive directors and established a separate Board Risk Committee.
  • A built-out stronger management team, which included the appointment of a new chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chief technology officer.
  • Retaining the founder as a core part of the Board and leadership team to champion the culture and purpose of the organisation, whilst also acting as a client advocate.
  • Transforming the ICT (information and communications technology) environment to help ensure systems and processes are suitable for future growth ambitions, which involved:
    • Migrating to cloud-based technology;
    • Establishing a Board Information Technology Steering Committee;
    • Building business continuity and data recovery plans; and
    • Identifying and addressing cyber and data security vulnerabilities.

Social-related outcomes

  • Improved job stability for workers by transitioning casual employees to permanent employment contracts.
  • Business growth and increased client numbers enabled jobs growth - at the time of acquisition the headcount was 145 full-time equivalents (FTEs), which increased to 255 FTEs over the first year of the investment.
  • Increased training to upskill the expanded workforce.
  • Commissioned Social Return on Investment (“SROI”) work to define and measure My Plan Manager’s social impact.
  • Deepened relationships with the National Disability Insurance Agency to facilitate better outcomes for clients.

Carbon neutral aspirations

In early 2021, the Private Equity team worked with My Plan Manager to measure and identify sources of the company’s carbon emissions in order to establish a baseline measurement. The team is developing an action plan targeting certified carbon neutrality by the end of 2021.

IFM believes My Plan Manager is well placed to continue to offer a competitive service, be a trusted advisor to clients and stand up for an inclusive Australia. We will continue to work closely with management to strengthen quality of service and workplace culture as a fundamental base for future growth.