Taxonomy: Sustainability Platform to the Rescue

    With the new EU regulations on sustainable finance on the doorstep of the entire industry, asset managers are scrambling to sort through the various data, services and consultants’ offerings. Catching up with Anja Rundquist (pictured), formerly working on ESG business development with S&P Global Market Intelligence, we found out that she is moving on to Worldfavor, a Swedish-based SaaS (Software as a Service) company, where she will start as Strategic Account Executive on February 1st. As Rundquist ran us through her new firm’s product offering, she explained why this new position is so exciting for her and how the platform can solve the problems of asset managers and companies that are currently struggling to find how to adapt to the new requirements, fast and cost-efficiently.

    Founded in 2016, Worldfavor aims to make it easier for companies to answer ESG and compliance questionnaires and then capitalise on the network effects throughout the various value-chains. Rundquist makes it easy for us to understand the product through an example. “Firms can have a tough time sending out questionnaires to all their suppliers, portfolio companies as well as internal stakeholders or subsidiaries and to monitor the answers and consolidate them. What Worldfavor does is to simplify the process and streamline it thanks to digitalization and automation,” she explains. “Worldfavor provides flexibility for custom and ready standard questionnaires in general sustainability areas, as well as specific areas such as the EU Taxonomy. On the topic of sustainable finance regulations have Worldfavor teamed up with one of the big four to enhance its value proposition. The result is especially relevant for a wide range of market participants, from companies to asset managers.”

    One example Rundquist mentions is Oatly, who uses Worldfavor. Several private equity funds are also using the platform to monitor their portfolio companies’ responses. “What is interesting is that the system can function as a social media-like platform and make data available to the network of companies that are connected along the value chain,” Rundquist continues. “Worldfavor can be used both by the investor and the portfolio company to track progress, mitigate risks and share information. It can save a lot of time and provide more relevant data points.”

    Rundquist looks forward to her strategic role. After graduating from Linköping University with an MSc in International Business and an MSc in HR from EADA, Barcelona, she has spent her career in sales and management roles at information and software related companies such as FactSet, BMI (now part of Fitch), Euromoney, Value8, Valitor and most recently S&P Global Market Intelligence. After 12 years in London, she is excited to join a Swedish firm in a fast expansion phase. “I will take the lead in developing our relationships for key accounts, which means that I will have the possibility to leverage my past experience and my existing network with asset managers, hedge funds and private equity. I will also reach out to larger corporate clients,” Rundquist says.

    “There are quite a few differences between different markets in Europe and the great thing with Worldfavor’s platform is that our customers can use it regardless of whether they focus more on environmental aspects or the social and governance angles. Within one area, I have noticed geographical trends in terms of the data investors are looking for. In Sweden, for example, they often concentrate on carbon footprint and CO2 measurements, with scope 1 and 2 quite well covered, and scope 3 trailing somewhat behind. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, they consider biodiversity as a more central concern. In Finland, forestry is a key investment area and the level of detail considered in the decision-making process is higher. In general, I expect that mitigation of physical risk is going to become more important for everyone, but it will, of course, remain more important for countries that are potentially more affected by flooding or natural disasters, for instance,” Rundquist adds.

    For Rundquist, it makes sense to promote a service that streamlines the collection of data, while proposing model questionnaires. “In the first phase, Worldfavor relied heavily on a customised approach as flexibility was key to answer everyone’s needs. Now a strong demand for standardisation has emerged and the model questionnaires can be very useful, especially for firms that are at the beginning of their ESG journey. As such, the system allows a wide range of companies and investment firms to fulfil their needs at a very attractive price point compared to instances where they have to start from scratch,” she concludes.

    Picture courtesy of Anja Rundquist

    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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