Claire Veuthey aims to become a renowned venture partner in the space of impact investing. It is Claire’s drive to search for the most interesting startups to make a positive environmental and social impact. From her Master’s degree in London to license in Geneva, Claire understands the intricate investment approach and research segmentation that continues to shape her career.
Currently, Claire Veuthey serves as the ESG Director at OpenInvest. Previously, Claire was the head of ESG at Wells Fargo in San Francisco.
Personal and Academic Background
Over the years, Claire has rendered her professional expertise to numerous investors for better integration of ESG (i.e., environmental, social, and corporate governance) factors into core decisions. The underlying goal was to improve product development, investment research, and various business development roles in Toronto, Singapore, London, Amsterdam, and now in San Francisco.
Career Transition and Collaboration
In addition, Claire’s collaboration with various financial institutions opened new doors of opportunities. Claire has the experience of working with private equity managers, pension funds, and stock exchanges. The career-driven unique approach of Claire is present in her multilingual capabilities.
Academically, she studied International Relations (IR) in Geneva. Subsequently, Claire did her Master’s degree from King’s College on War Studies & Conflict. Her academic experience helped her transition into an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) role and ultimately a career guiding investments in the private corporate sector.
Traveling and Multicultural Background
Claire grew up in a multicultural home environment. As a result, there was more than just one cultural influence in the home. As Claire learned more languages, her cultural understanding of places and empathy for people grew exponentially. Interestingly, Claire grew up in Washington, DC, which is a unique culture in itself.
Claire has traveled around the world for fun, academic, and her career. Whether it is her stay in Switzerland, London, Amsterdam, Toronto, or Singapore, Claire accumulated experiences over time that would later transform her career.
That said, San Francisco became the eventual work and living destination for Claire. One of the earliest lessons Claire learned was how identities are inherently not exclusive. It means many aspects of her own cultural identities were overlapping in as they do globally.
Also, Claire is grateful for her background as an immigrant which allowed her to really embrace America as a nation of immigrants. Furthermore, she became aware of the endless opportunities to make valuable friends as she traveled and lived around the world. She noted that it is the insular and diverse nature of the US that allows you to push academic and career boundaries.
Claire’s curiosity led her to a different perspective on international relations, economics, political science, and international history, and law. She understood very early on the different dynamics of conflict management and security development, which is what led her to continue on down this career track.
Claire Veuthey’s Stay in Haas and Pursuit of MBA
To understand the theoretical foundation of business, Claire Veuthey did her MBA at UC Berkeley Haas. Claire figured out that the historical and sustainable growth of corporate responsibilities can involve a multitude of parameters.
Dedication, Fellowship Award, and Aspirations
That said, Claire was able to get through day-to-day struggles at Haas through shared support from colleagues, friends, and family. However, it is amazing that Claire already had 12 years of experience by the time she decided to pursue an MBA at Haas.
Through those work experiences, Claire understood how to combine theoretical information and practical applications of various business models. It should not come as a surprise that Claire managed to receive a Dean’s Fellowship award at Berkeley-Haas.
Claire remembers the overwhelming comradery in Haas classes. There were many stories of students that inspired Claire to move past her desired ambitions. Though most importantly, the bond she shared with students at Haas was genuine and continues to help her garner more success.
Career Journey: ESG Director and ESG Rating System
ESG is an acronym that refers to environmental, social, and governance. It has become essential for industry scale investments. It allows information that you usually would not typically see in financial statements.
The first decade of Claire’s career revolves around research, data creation, public markets, selling the research, and using the valuable research for making investment decisions (i.e., stocks or bonds) in various public companies.
Experience Prior to ESG
Before helping integrate factors of ESG, Claire undertook responsibilities as the head of the Social Impact Investing team of Wells Fargo for corporate engagement and ESG research. Claire also served as an advisor to SASB (Sustainable Accounting Standards Board), a non-profit organization in its inaugural year. In fact, she was among the first to receive the FSA credentialing.
ESG: Primary Focus, Experience, and Challenges
Claire’s focus of attention was to see the investments through a social and environmental lens. The underlying intention is to view the ecological footprint of a company objectively. On the other hand, the governance aspect allows you to see how a company engages with its customers, employees, and communities to align with the social and environmental goals.
On the surface, it may sound straightforward, but there are endless factors that make up qualitative and quantitative data around social impact. Claire, as an analyst, understood that a financial statement could not showcase all the implications and benefits from ESG objectives.
Equity Research Approaches
When it comes to equity research strategies, Claire knows that it comes with certain opportunities and risks altogether. For instance, the fixed-income ESG approach is relatively more risk-centric. In essence, Claire states that pre-investment examination of companies through filtering mechanism is crucial to make sure you are not picking the bad ones.
Social Impact Investing
Several investment approaches lead to social impact investing. In the past, Claire would dive into the ESG perspective to determine potential risks, exposure, management practices, and growth opportunities.
In fact, it is a collective approach that allows you to take a closer look at some essential research questions. From things like product recalls to the extension of the supply chain, there are certain factors that may or may not be subject to current regulation.
In simple terms, the strategic approach for social impact investing is to avoid extractives and search for companies that are socially and environmentally efficient. It means the products or services they sell must play some environmental part to help others. Claire understands that companies, in the end, benefit from a deep-rooted social and environmental awareness.
Corporate Engagement and Investment Impact
Claire would not have understood the corporate engagement and investment impact had it not been for her focus of studies on governmental conflicts. In fact, she learned how it plays a central role in the outcome of a company’s internal politics and corporate responsibility.
Her experience taught her that preconceived investment assumptions are not always constant. And her MBA was helpful to understand the context of operational activities and fundamental concepts around these non-constants.
Ultimately, it comes down to how you put different pieces of information together and how you apply the information gleaned. How you analyze the governance structure and corporate engagement of a company will really depend on the regulatory policies, communities, employees, environmental footprint, and more. Also keeping in mind that for the venture capital, early-stage phase, it’s a different game for startups where the product is all that matters.
Throughout Claire’s career, she understood that the comparability factor is not always easy for the ESG space. And that’s because comparison often leads companies with different problems to the same metrics which may be misaligned with the big picture of the company.
Claire understands that imperfect information inevitably leads to a multitude of blind spots. What constitutes a flawless investment process remains subjective. It is, however, the human element in an investment approach that typically changes the outcome.
You check out the full podcast and learn more about the creative research process and investment tactics of Claire Veuthey.