Read the original article published on B-TV.com: “Skyline Wealth hones competitive edge through ESG practices”
Skyline Wealth offers more than meets the eye. While the private investment firm’s Apartment, Retail, Commercial, and Clean Energy funds offer investors access to institutional-quality real estate and clean energy assets, the funds also each have a history of consistent stable returns and tax efficiency.
Beyond this, there is another secret ingredient to the funds’ historically successful performance. The funds, along with Skyline Wealth itself, are all part of a parent entity—Skyline Group of Companies—which integrates ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) initiatives among all its subsidiary companies and business practices.
This results in each fund having ESG strategy baked into its operations, allowing investors an opportunity to align their investment goals with their personal values and desire to create positive change.
ESG considers non-traditional performance attributes to measure the sustainability and social impact of a business.
“ESG is something that Skyline Group of Companies (Skyline) has embraced from the very beginning – even before we knew the actual term ‘ESG,’” explained R. Jason Ashdown, Co-Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), Skyline Group of Companies. As CSO, Ashdown is responsible for overseeing the corporate strategy and implementation of Skyline’s sustainability and social responsibility efforts, including reducing Skyline’s environmental footprint—an achievement that potentially has a direct, positive impact on the funds’ performance for investors.
“It happened organically,” Ashdown said.
“We were always looking for ways to get more value out of our properties but realized that we could only charge so much rent before we priced ourselves out of the market.”
So, unlike many traditional landlords determined to spend as little as possible on their buildings, Ashdown and his partners adopted a different mindset: one that all boiled down to simple math, while also considering sustainability.
“We’ve always maintained a buy-and-hold strategy with our properties,” Ashdown explained, “so we were inclined to look after them. Before long, it was clear to us that the efficiencies and cost savings we derived from the improvements we made often provided a bigger return on investment than buying another building, proving a dollar saved when managing a real estate asset is at least as good as a dollar earned.”
By 2006, Skyline Group of Companies decided to give its sustainability efforts a formal name: the Portfolio Efficiency Plan. The plan incorporated many key ESG practices long before formalized ESG plans were widely established among corporations. It has been going strong ever since.
“We’ve come to realize that ESG isn’t something that comes at a cost,” Ashdown said.
“It’s something that provides benefits. We’re always looking for opportunities to increase value of our properties and for our clean energy assets, which generally flows through to increased value for our investors. As it turns out, ESG provides us a way to do that. For example, when it comes to the more than 240 apartment properties we own, we have a lot of influence over the carbon we produce, the waste we generate, and the electricity and water we consume across that portfolio.”
That influence has translated into a range of investments across Skyline’s properties, such as low-flow toilets and showerheads, new windows, better insulation, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, environmentally friendly cleaning products, a network of electric vehicle charging stations, and more.
Skyline has also outfitted many of its apartment, retail, and commercial buildings with rooftop solar panels, and recently Skyline Clean Energy Fund ventured into sustainable waste management through the acquisition of a biogas facility.
Skyline has been just as active on the social side of the equation. In addition to the volunteer work its 1000+ employees are encouraged to do in communities from coast to coast, it has received national recognition for its Skyline Living R.I.S.E. (Reach, Impact, Support, Elevate) support program rolled out specifically for its 35,000+ residential tenants across Canada.
“We recognize that our apartment tenants sometimes fall upon hard times at no fault of their own, and we felt we had a responsibility and an opportunity to help them,” Ashdown explained.
“The R.I.S.E. program allows our tenants to apply for assistance if they truly need help. For example, if you lost your job or got into a car accident, or if somebody in your family was terminally ill, you could come to us and ask for our assistance to get back on course.”
R.I.S.E. provides several types of assistance, from access to community resources, to financial assistance for rental payments, to support with hydro, telephone, and grocery bills.
To date, the program has gone far beyond paying for itself in terms of balancing the cost of tenant support with expenses for collections and eviction, court filing and legal fees, and tenant turnover. Its success has even prompted competitors in the industry to inquire about how the program works.
“It blows my mind to this day that the dollars we earmarked to help tenants have provided a return that is close to tenfold*,” Ashdown asserted.
“We’ve helped hundreds of tenants get back on their feet and remain in good standing for the long term. They’re still calling our Skyline Living apartments home. Nobody wants to see a good tenant leave, even if they have fallen on hard times. Without our tenants, we wouldn’t be in business.”
Not surprisingly, Skyline has earned a number of prestigious awards for its efforts; most recently, in early December 2021, it was awarded the Environmental Excellence and Impact Award from the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario. The Impact award was given to Skyline Living for its efforts surrounding its R.I.S.E. program, which also earned Skyline Living the Rental Housing Provider of the Year award from the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations in 2020. Earlier this year, Skyline was also deemed a new Platinum Club member within Canada’s Best Managed Companies program, due in no small part to their ESG practices.
“Time and time again, we’re enhancing the value of the properties and assets we acquire when we approach things with our ESG hats on,” Ashdown said.
“Our ESG focus enhances our industry reputation as well. It attracts tenants who want to feel good about where they live. It helps to make Skyline a place where people want to come and work. And it contributes to paying distributions for our Skyline Wealth investors who can feel good about the ventures they’re supporting.”
Above all, Ashdown states, focusing on ESG is simply the right thing to do.
“It gives our properties and assets staying power. And it keeps us very competitive. I think these are exciting times for us and for our Skyline Wealth investors.”
Speak to Skyline Wealth today to learn more about us. Find out how our funds may help you achieve investment returns so you can live the lifestyle you want, and how these funds employ ESG practices that make a positive impact on Canadian communities.
*The R.I.S.E. program is reviewed monthly and takes into consideration the cost savings from legal fees, enforcement fees, and vacancy loss compared to the money spent on an applicant who was approved for the program. Last audited date was November 30, 2021.