Leading by Example

Stockholm (NordSIP) – Liza Jonson has been CEO of Swedbank Robur for a little over a year. With just over 3 million (and close to 1 million customers in the Baltics), Swedbank Robur is Sweden’s largest mutual fund company and the second largest owner on the Stockholm stock exchange with over 1200 billion in assets under management. Previously, she was Head of Funds at Storebrand Asset Management and CEO of SPP Fonder AB.Throughout my 20-year long career in the finance and fund industry, I have worked to make the industry more sustainable. The recipe is to integrate sustainability issues into every aspect of the business – from investment decisions and product development to how you view of leadership. You must constantly prove that what is sustainable is also profitable.”

Out to kill a myth

“I like the expression that says: to invest sustainably is to act responsibly. We are one of the second largest shareholders on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, which means that we, for example, sit in 81 nomination committees. We can make a difference there. Of course, sustainability issues are high on the agenda in the dialogues we have with all these companies. It becomes a natural part of our sustainability analysis that we base all our investment decisions on. Companies that do not take these questions seriously will not be the financial winners in the long term. We have an important mission: to kill once and for all the myth that there is an opposite relationship between sustainability and profitability – it does not!”

Setting the standard

“Swedbank Robur’s sustainability work has three legs: Excluding non-sustainable investments, for all funds, integration, i.e. cooperation with the companies, we invest in, as well as impact through our ownership management. We feel strong in all three legs. We introduced our Responsible Investment Policy in all our funds in April 2017. The combination of these three legs, and how we work with them, make Swedbank Robur unique compared to other fund companies. We have a good base level in all our funds, which we will gradually increase. We also offer an advanced level of sustainability that more clearly meets the wishes of our institutional customers. We call that the Swedish institutional standard.”

Building sustainability into the incentive structure

“Regarding integration, we want to build a more systematic approach and cooperate with the companies we invest in. We have high ambitions. All managers have sustainability as part of their incentive structure. Also, we take every opportunity to address sustainability issues in our work related to ownership management. We have a forgiving starting point in Sweden because many people are very interested and committed to sustainability issues – and we know that many more would actively invest sustainably if they had access to more information on available options. In a way, the customers themselves also contribute to the development of our product range.”