Time to Move for AP1’s Groundbreaking Guardian

    Stockholm (NordSIP) – This week is Nadine Viel Lamare’s last one at the Swedish buffer pension fund AP1. After 26 years at the fund, it is time for a move. Having had the pleasure of spending some time together with Nadine at the TBLI Nordic conference last week, discovering an original card game which revealed her core strengths, NordSIP has the pleasure of sharing the highlights of her career at AP1, and some of her aspirations for the future.

    One of the entrepreneurs featured at this year’s TBLI conference was TwinStrength, a young personality-game company from the Netherlands. At one of the many exciting parallel workshops, we had a chance to try the game, and find out about our own two “core strengths”, in other words, to identify what the two special powers are, that give us the most energy. As fate has it, I was paired up with Nadine for the game. Thanks to a deck of specially-designed cards, we soon identified that her first core strength is called “Guardian” and the description of that feature says it all. “You get a considerable amount of positive energy when you prevent serious damage. With passion and dedication, you fly into the deep,” the associated book explains. “There is a fairly high chance that you will be concerned about the well-being of the world.”

    Indeed, for the past 26 years, Nadine has gone through different positions, the most important of which were Head of Corporate Communication from 2001 to 2009, when she also worked with the Governance team, and then, Head of Sustainable Value Creation ever since. “When we started,” she says, “we merely screened investments and engaged after the facts, when it was too late. We have come a long way since. Progressively throughout the years, we have integrated sustainable investment practices in all asset classes, and we own many of them, each facing different challenges. We have performed in-depth work with active public equities, of course, but also fixed income, private equity, real estate and agriculture. For sure, we still struggle sometimes, and there is room for continuous improvement, but we have achieved a lot, and it has been very stimulating to work in promoting sustainability in every asset class.”

    Nadine is also very proud of the more recent work that AP1’s external management team has achieved by interacting with fund managers and pushing boundaries. “We have been driving change in the asset management industry, not the least on passive strategies. Instead of accepting the offering as it was, we asked for more. That has been very satisfying but it isn’t over, and I’m convinced that they will continue to do a great job.”

    “Our biggest achievement by far, however, was the creation of the Council on Ethics for the Swedish National Pension Funds,” Nadine adds. “It has been an essential milestone and has become the cornerstone for our work on sustainability. The pooling of resources has enabled us to have a real impact on companies, and, over the years, we have got recognition for what we are achieving not only from other financial institutions and corporates but also from the Ministry of Finance.”

    Nadine’s second core strength according to the TwinStrength game is “Groundbreaking”. “You prefer to go further than others. (…) Achieving goals is fun, but there must always be something new behind the horizon. Not to explore boundaries but to cross them. (…) You are also incredibly loyal (…) it can be a pitfall,” the book warns. This is what brings us to today, where Nadine has decided to take a big and somewhat scary step into the unknown. “My main purpose is that I want to do even more and make a difference,” she explains. “I want to stay in the realm of for-profit organisations, either working in the corporate world or staying in the investment industry or perhaps having a foot in both. I want to promote different initiatives in this space as well as add to and facilitate the information flow that is required by the financial markets to make a correct assessment of an investment’s sustainability level, be it in the context of a business or a financial product. That’s where a lot of ground still needs to be covered, in my view.”

    “At the same time, pushing limits doesn’t mean leaving anyone behind,” Nadine continues. “I want to ensure that the minimum level is achieved both in the financial and in the corporate sector. Many actors need to improve their work on sustainability, starting at a basic level.”

    For Nadine, the most pressing issue is the climate, but Human Rights are often forgotten. “If we don’t prevent the worst of climate change,” she explains, “the notion of human rights may become obsolete. With so much emphasis put on carbon and fossil fuel, however, many people forget that sustainability cannot be achieved without looking at the broader picture, including human society. In December, we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Declaration, and it would be a good time to reflect and put those Rights in the spotlight again.”

    Nadine seems to have her work cut out for her already, and we look forward to seeing what she will do next. Lycka till!

    Picture courtesy of AP1

    Aline Reichenberg Gustafsson, CFA
    Aline Reichenberg Gustafsson, CFA
    Aline Reichenberg Gustafsson, CFA is Editor-in-Chief for NordSIP and Managing Director for Big Green Tree Media. She has 18 years of experience in the asset management industry in Stockholm, London and Geneva, including as a long/short equity hedge fund portfolio manager, and buy-side analyst, but also as CFO and COO in several asset management firms. Aline holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a License in Economic Sciences from the University of Geneva.

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