Stockholm (NordSIP) – Thomas Poulsen, recently appointed Director of business development for the Nordics at Kempen Capital Management, can hardly hide his enthusiasm about the new position. NordSIP catches up with him as he is settling down in his spacious new office in Amsterdam and getting to know better the people and the product offerings of the well-established Dutch asset manager. “It has been such an eye-opener, the sheer level of sophistication that is possible to reach when it comes to sustainable investments,” he says.
Poulsen is quick to admit that he is still in the honeymoon phase. Also, coming from a position in London working for an American employer, it is easy to get excited about the way ESG has leapfrogged ahead in the Netherlands as well as the Nordics. Yet, he seems genuinely impressed when he speaks about his first impressions. “Sustainability here runs like a red thread across everything we do. It is deeply rooted and seems like it comes from the heart,” he says.
As a specialist asset manager focused on niche investment strategies, Kempen Capital Management is perfectly positioned to leverage its influence on sustainability across the whole value chain, working with clients, managers and companies to help them achieve both financial returns and sustainable impact. Across the spectrum of strategies that they are experts in, from small-cap and high-dividend equities, European credit, real estate and infrastructure to private markets, the preferred approach is that of active ownership. “Exclusion is the easy part,” explains Poulsen. “We would rather include and engage and take the companies that we invest with to the next sustainability level.”
“Here at Kempen, we like to stay ahead of the game,” says Poulsen. The former midfielder in Denmark’s national football team is proud of how his new colleagues move rapidly across the ESG field not just to meet but also to anticipate the clients’ increasing demands and the guidelines from regulators. “It is fun to join a team of frontrunners,” he adds.
Speaking of challenges ahead, Poulsen mentions the pressure on fees that the industry as a whole is facing. “We will need to think through our value proposition extra carefully going forward,” he suggests. “We have to get creative without jeopardizing security and long-term objectives. We simply need to deliver value to justify our fees.”
According to Poulsen, the competitive landscape when it comes to ESG here in the Nordics is fierce, and you really need to differentiate yourself in order to succeed. “Not all the guys are as green as they sound, though,” he cautions. And, having glimpsed into the inner workings of Kempen Capital Management, he sounds confident that his new team of frontrunners will strike the right chord with Nordic investors.