Stockholm (NordSIP) – As sustainable factors continue to cement their place as one of the core concerns of the financial industry, asset managers need to increase their capabilities to tackle the challenges that lay ahead. In the middle of June, Storebrand announced it was expanding its active ownership and sustainability analysis team by hiring Victoria Lidén as a sustainable analyst.
Lidénjoins from Öhman Fonder, where she was part of the ESG and fund management team and was responsible for impact dialogues. Prior to that, she conducted sustainability analysis at Söderberg & Partners.
“We are very happy that Victoria agreed to take on this position and contribute to strengthening our work with sustainable investments. Storebrand has long had a leading position in the area, but we have higher ambitions, a job where Victoria’s solid competence and experience will be central,” says Åsa Wallenberg, CEO of SPP Fonder and fund manager Storebrand Asset Management.
The Path to Sustainable Investments
“I have always been very interested in societal issues and I was set on a career within foreign affairs and international development,” Lidén says. However, inspired by sustainability leaders such as Carina Lundberg Markow, Parul Sharma and Anna Ryott, Lidén discovered the field of CSR.
“I started to take classes in sustainable development at CSR Sweden and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. During my university studies in Business and Economics I also found the financial courses very fascinating, it was an eye-opener to understand how the capital markets were operating and that investors could be a powerful force for good. I saw ESG as a great opportunity to combine the best of both worlds –sustainability and finance – and for the last 6 years I have been working with sustainable investing,” Lidén adds.
At Öhman I had the possibility to develop in-depth knowledge about how to engage in an impactful way with companies. This experience provided me with strong insight into different strategies,” Lidén says. “However, if I can only choose one takeaway it will have to be the power that lies in collaborative investor engagement. Sharing resources and collaborating with other investors really is key in order to exert influence and have an impact,” Lidén argues.
According to her, patience is key to achieve engagement results. “The most difficult part when engaging with companies is how to go from not only words to actions, but also from actions to results. To achieve real results, you must be patient and prepared to dedicate time, present good arguments, build trust, set clear expectations, and continuously follow up on these. There are also different strategies to exercise leverage, and some are more effective than others, which you must explore on a case-by-case basis,” Lidén explains.
Challenges and Opportunities
Going forwards, Lidén identifies four main challenges and opportunities for sustainable investors, including regulations, delivery of net-zero commitments, the interconnectedness of sustainability goals and COVID 19.
“The EU Sustainable Finance regulations will, of course, play an influential role going forward – how we label funds, comply with disclosure requirements and so forth – this will continue to be on top of the agenda,” Lidén adds.
“I will have an important role in making sure that we deliver on our climate strategy. We have committed to making our investment portfolios net-zero by 2050. This means that we will actively map our portfolio exposure to high emitters, engage with the companies, set targets for the relevant sectors and regularly report on progress,” Lidén explains.
“I am also looking to explore a more interconnected approach to sustainable investing – we cannot solve the climate issue if the solution at the same time negatively affects biodiversity. I want to highlight the importance of confronting climate change and biodiversity loss together. For example, biodiversity and ecosystem will play a vital role for climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Lidén tells NordSIP.
“The global pandemic has also reinforced the importance of this holistic mindset. We have seen how biodiversity loss also can lead to an increased risk of emerging diseases with very severe economic consequences for society at large. Extreme weather events, pandemics – these are systemic risks and must be addressed as such because there are inherent financial risks if we ignore them. The different sustainability issues – the E, S and G – are interconnected and equally important to address,” Lidén concludes.
Image courtesy of Storebrand