Ålandsbanken Calls on Iron Lady

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Stockholm (NordSIP) – Anna-Stina Wiklund, recently appointed Head of Sustainable Investing at Ålandsbanken, is certainly not someone who shies away from challenges. We managed to catch her for a short chat about her new position just a few days after she successfully completed a full IronMan race in Tallin. It was her fifth IronMan, she tells us, without a trace of boasting.

After many years working with fund selection at the bank, Wiklund is excited about the move, a challenge that she’s rather looking forward to. “Working in sustainability means you learn something new every day,” she tells us. For her personally, it also means moving back to Helsinki and closer to her family, which she is happy about.

- Promotion -

The role itself is new for Ålandsbanken, an acknowledgement of the need to focus and prioritise the bank’s work in the area of sustainable investing. Wiklund tells us that she started discussing it with her boss already in February. As with many other projects during this Corona-afflicted year however, it took a while for the internal move to actually happen. Now, finally, she’s transferred all her fund selection and marketing responsibilities to her colleagues and ready to fully immerse into her new job.

So, where does she start, we wonder. Wiklund’s immediate priority will be to ensure that sustainability is properly integrated into the bank’s investment process, a natural part of all investment activities rather than just an add-on. Meeting client demands for more sustainable products is another focus area. “New products can be expected,” she adds.

As for challenges, Wiklund is quite aware of the regulatory pressures ahead, having already participated in the bank’s task force, working side by side with the compliance group. “It’s going to be difficult meeting the demands of the new disclosure regulation, given that companies we invest in not always disclose enough. We’ll need to make a lot of assumptions,” she says. Partnering with reliable data providers will be key, according to her.

When we ask the new Head of Sustainable Investing what the financial industry, in general, could do to tackle the complex ESG issues, she has a clear favourite that she reckons could be a game-changer: “Stop financing the fossil fuel industry!” Lobbyists are surely trying to delay the process, according to her, but it’s still happening, ever so slowly. Just recently, on August 31st, the mighty Dow Jones Industrial Average index removed ExxonMobil, which had been in the index longer than any other stock, from its composition, a sign that the change is happening, and even accelerating.

Wiklund is also trying to minimise the extent of her personal environmental footprint. For example, she avoids buying a lot of clothes and the ones she buys are of higher quality, designed to last, she explains. She walks to work. And as for travelling… “Oh well, now with Corona, it’s not an issue,” she sighs. She does intend to visit Stockholm and Åland on a regular basis though, as her new role is encompassing the bank’s operations in all locations.

As we congratulate Wiklund once again on her new position and on her impressive achievement as a multiple IronMan finisher, she tells us about another sports initiative, very much aligned with her new role at the bank. “There are a lot of endurance sports enthusiasts at Ålandsbanken,” she says. “A while ago some of us came together for a 25-kilometre swimming event in the Baltic Sea, in order to emphasise how important it is to preserve this fragile environment.” They were aiming to repeat it this year, swimming from mainland Finland to Åland, yet another plan that had to be postponed, alas. We are certainly looking forward to this and, hopefully, many other feats that this energetic lady will embark upon in the future.

 

Picture courtesy of Anna-Stina Wiklund / NordSIP / Twenty20

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