Stockholm (NordSIP) – With Storebrand Asset Management / SPP Fonder reaching the top of the IRRI Survey’s Nordic Cut this week, we asked Robert Vicsai, Sustainability Specialist and Anna Jönsson, CFA, Director Institutional Clients, to explain what they think makes their firm stand out.
As they were both roaming the streets of Almedalen this week, finding out where sustainability is headed, Jönsson and Vicsai also shared their key takeaways so far. “Partnership is the new Leadership,” starts Jönsson, commenting on the various panels and speeches she has heard this week at Sweden’s most prominent annual political and sustainability rally in Almedalen, on the Island of Gotland. “Cooperation across industries is instrumental for innovation and sustainable development,” she adds.
“Listening to the conversations about the subject of sustainable investments here in Almedalen, we could be misled to think that all capital is behind the sustainable investment movement,” says Vicsai, somewhat sceptically. “However, when looking at global numbers, we are still far away from where we should be. Market participants need to stop talking so much and start walking faster.”
One sustainability theme Storebrand has focused on is diversity. “Listed companies are gradually becoming more gender-equal,” Jönsson also noticed at the festival. “However, in the unlisted space, there are hardly any women. The question is, what will tomorrow’s companies and their products look like if we don’t bring in and utilise our entire capacity across gender, age, nationality, etc.?” Private companies may indeed become tomorrow’s public companies, and Storebrand believes that long-term profits are strongly linked with solving societal problems sustainably.
“Sustainability is an integral part of Storebrand’s core business,” Vicsai explains. “For all of our assets under management, we make decisions only after evaluating economic, social and environmental aspects. We work holistically and have implemented three main strategies in order help to ensure our clients’ future returns: risk reduction through exclusions, picking best performers through our sustainability rating and, last but not least, we exert influence through active ownership. Our standards for sustainable investments are based on the assumption that the companies, which contribute to solving our societal problems in a sustainable way, will also be the most profitable in the long run.”
“Sustainability can influence companies’ long-term financial performance,” Jönsson elaborates. “Therefore, it is vital to provide the necessary tools to integrate company-specific ESG risks and opportunities. We were one of the first company to establish a sustainable investment department in 1995, and we have now one of the most experienced ESG teams in the Nordic region. A central and unique part of the team’s delivery is to provide a fundamental view of sustainable companies through our in-house sustainability rating. The Sustainability Rating system is based on ESG issues which are structured as ESG Risks and ESG Opportunity scores. Storebrand’s fund managers have integrated this ESG analysis steadily into company selection processes from the beginning.”
Among several highlights in 2018/2019, Vicsai is particularly proud of the €7.4 billion of capital his firm’s fossil-free index solutions have gathered in just a short time. “We have also increased our efforts substantially when it comes to active ownership, and we managed to lead a significant investor initiative as part of Climate Action 100+, together with other managers,” Jönsson adds. “We were among one of the first investors to have a coal exit strategy, from an investment standpoint” Vicsai reminds us. “This past year, we have further increased our efforts and have taken on an even more ambitious coal policy.”
Picture courtesy of Anna Jönsson and Robert Vicsai