Stockholm (NordSIP) – Just ten months after her last move, it is time to catch up with Oshni Arachchi again, as she leaves Folksam to join Danske Bank Assert Management in the new position of Global Head of Sustainability Data, Screening and Processes.
“I am excited to build on my 10 years of professional experience in the field by taking on this new role at Danske Bank Asset Management and to lead our Responsible Investment efforts in Sweden, the market, which I now call home,” Arachchi starts.
Taking on a new challenge less than a year after settling into a new position is never an easy decision. For Arachchi, the move was motivated by the opportunity to accelerate change. “To say that the finance industry is undergoing a remarkable and fundamental shift is certainly an understatement of the journey that we are on,” she says.
“To be truthful the rate and scale of the transformation that is required for all actors to contribute and support our shared goals, such as Agenda 2030, is ambitious and extremely challenging as it will require a significant investment in disclosure – or as we like to call it, data – and the corresponding infrastructure to contextualise this information and build value from it. The challenge is great and one that I would like to play my part in. But it’s this challenge combined with the considerable investment that Danske Bank has already made, which to me, spoke to their commitment to meet it and support other investors in this shift,” Arachchi continues.
Taking on a position with key responsibility is also a way to pave the path towards more diversity. “On a personal note, when I consider the general impact that I may play within the Nordic sustainable investing space, I think I’ve come to better grasp the importance that representation plays in shaping paths. I grew up in environments where I was the norm and I don’t think I really understood the importance of this. Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to speak with students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds who are just starting out in their careers. We’ve spoken about the different paths that we can take within finance and it’s from these discussions that I have also come to realise the small role that I also play in demonstrating an option that is available and the intrinsic value that we bring and create, through our diversity,” adds Arachchi.
For Arachchi, Danske Bank has an opportunity to lead at this stage of the sustainable investment journey. “Given Danske Bank’s role within the market and the strength of the in-house experts and analysis that we have, I think that it goes without saying that we are uniquely positioned to achieve real-world impact. Danske Bank has set targets that lay down a clear path for our ambition to become a facilitator for change and enable customers to invest in sustainable development,” she says.
“Though I only recently joined the team, from the meetings and internal collaborations that I’ve taken part in, I have to say that I am impressed by the open culture and frank exchange that is encouraged in an effort to create robust strategies that contribute to decarbonising the economy and to enable capital to work for sustainable change. And my hope is that this approach and the unique insights that we bring will contribute constructively to the evolution of the responsible investment landscape and make it easier for investors to make sustainable choices,” Arachchi continues.
With the rising importance of the EU regulation, including SFDR and the taxonomy, hiring experts is ever so crucial for financial institutions seeking to remain at the forefront. “I expect that the Sustainable Finance Action Plan will provide us with a common understanding on sustainability and the role that we have to play in supporting the global goals that we have collectively committed to. At Danske Bank, we welcome the new EU regulation and I am truly excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and look forward to collaborating with our customers, peers and policymakers in shaping an investment industry that advances sustainability and benefits society. As with any significant change, in the short term, I anticipate that we will face a teething period as investment firms adopt the various regulations that are included as part of the plan. I expect that there will be many lessons to be learnt from these initial efforts to ensure that products and services are aligned with regulation and that significant work and time will need to be spent on getting to that point of a shared understanding. In the long-term, though, we will all benefit from sharing knowledge on how to achieve sustainability outcomes,” Arachchi co ments.
“I don’t think there is one single factor to watch for to avoid greenwashing and I think that the complexity of the various steps that are being made in order to operationalise the EU’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan reflect this. It is widely agreed that setting guidelines to ensure consistency in interpretations of sustainability, and correspondi,ngly disclosure, will not only support transparency but also trust in the veracity of the statements that are issued on sustainability activities or contributions to society,” Arachchi concludes.