IRRI Survey, Nordics: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – The Independent Research in Responsible Investment (IRRI) 2017 survey results were announced earlier this week. The report, conducted by Research Editor Mike Tyrrell, of in partnership with survey specialist Extel, asked carefully targeted questions to a broad cross-section of SRI, corporate governance and investment professionals and IR and CSR managers from listed companies. 1,136 verified respondents from 43 countries delivered 39,749 data points that were distilled into 63 ‘insights’ and 30 rankings. All the results are made available for free to anyone who registers on SRI-connect.

    We were curious to see how the Nordic actors were faring in these rankings, given the prevalence of sustainable investing practice in the region. We would like to congratulate the winners and especially the specialists in the Nordics that made it into the top-10 of several lists. We also saw two service providers in the top-5 of their respective categories. We are happy to see the presence of many Nordic names ranking in the top 20 in the asset owner categories, but we were disappointed by the quasi-absence of Nordic brokers with one exception. There is definitely room for improvement in that area.

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    Without too many theatricals and suspense, we want to commend the performance of Annie Bersagel who worked at the Norwegian privately owned investment manager KLP Kapitalförvaltning last year and has since moved on to Norwegian asset owner Folketrygdfondet. She is the Nordic-based individual who ranked the best in several categories and sometimes far ahead of the competition.

    “Most positive contribution”, which highlights the best individuals who made the most positive overall contribution to SRI or corporate governance during 2017, Annie Bersagel, appears on position number 9, far ahead of the next in line, Matthew Smith of Storebrand Asset Management who comes in 28th position. In the category “Best understanding of companies – Asset Managers” Annie Bersagel appears in 7th position, followed by Shane Chaplin of Swedbank Robur at number 16. No other Nordic asset manager makes it into the top 20. Changing hats, Annie Bersagel also appears 7th in the list of individuals for “Asset Owner contributions”. Not far behind her, stand the Swedish-based Nadine Viel Lamare and Tina Rönnholm who both work at the state pension AP1. Further in the list, we find ten other Nordic names, mostly from Sweden with one representative from Finland: Anne-Charlotte Hormgard (AP3), Anna Follér (AP6), Gunnela Hahn (Swedish Church), Christina Olivecrona (AP2), Charlotta Sydstrand (AP7), Carina Lundberg Markow (Folksam), Annelie Gotbring (AMF), Peter Lundkvist (AP3) and Tiina Landau (Ilmarinen). For “Asset Owner contributions”, the top 20 counts six Nordic firms, with AP1 in 7th position and AP7, 8th, AP4 and AP2, 11th and 12th respectively. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global takes the 14th spot and KLP the 18th. In the top-50, other Nordic institutions include AP3 (23), AMF (25), the pension fund of the Swedish Church (32), Folksam (39), PFA Pension (47) and Ilmarinen (50).

    Specialist research providers also made a good showing in their respective sub-categories. GES Invest took the 3rd place in the sub-category Engagement Serviceswhile Nordic Investment Services came 4th in the Proxy voting advisorysub-category. Well done!

    Nordic presence gets a little more scarce on the asset management side. In the category Asset manager contribution – individuals. The first Nordic person to appear is Oslo-based Matthew Smith from Storebrand Asset Management at number 18. Why isn’t there anyone in the top 10? Are individuals working for Nordic asset managers not attracting the attention of survey-respondents? Or should they just improve on their contribution? One way or the other, we hope to see improvement there going forward. When it comes to rankings of asset management firms themselves, in the Asset manager contribution” category, Norges Bank Investment Management comes in 5th position, followed by Storebrand Asset Management in 18th position and Nordea Asset Management, in 21st.

    Luckily, Nordic-based companies are represented twice in the top 10. A big applause to diabetes treatment provider Novo Nordisk who saves the day by taking the second spot in the “Best company communicators” category, and to global clothing company H&M who comes in 9th. Further down the line but still in the top-50, we see ABB (22), Vestas (30), Statoil (38) and Stora Enso (49).

    Where Nordic firms are particularly behind is in the sell-side research rankings. “Best sell-side research firm”, the first Nordic broker to be mentioned is  SEB (Equity Research) at the 20th position. In “Best sell-side individual”. Julian Beer who works at SEB, takes the last available spot in the ranking at number 30. Broker research is a tough space to compete in; hats off for making it into the rankings!

    This video summarizes the findings and briefly presents the journey SRI-Connect and Extel have travelled since the first edition of the survey in 2012.


    Imag © OlegDoroshin – Shutterstock



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