Stockholm (NordSIP) – Earlier this month, Johan Klevenstedt (pictured) joined BNY Mellon subsidiary Insight Investment as the firm’s new business development manager for the Nordic region. Ever since Insight Investment’s inception in 2002, the asset management firm has been known for focusing solely on areas where it can deliver an edge. This feature was a crucial argument for Klevenstedt’s decision. “I have always been a great believer of ‘focus, focus, focus’,” he explains. “To me, the core strength of Insight is being extremely good in focused areas. We are recognised as a leader when it comes to global fixed income and solutions. I am excited to work with clients on solutions and introduce relevant strategies reflecting required outcomes that will fit the Nordic market well.”
The global asset manager’s serious approach to sustainability is another defining feature that Klevenstedt finds particularly attractive. As one of the founding signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), Insight has been successfully integrating environmental, social and governance considerations into their decision-making processes for over a decade. “In 2020, we achieved A+ ratings across all the relevant categories in the UN PRI survey, reflecting our ongoing commitment to integrating responsible investment practices across all aspects of our business,” explains Klevenstedt proudly. “In addition to Insight’s many existing industry memberships, earlier this year, we joined the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative,” he adds.
Klevenstedt is even more excited about Insight’s efforts to solve the real investment problems faced by a broad range of clients. “Insight specialises in crafting solutions to help its clients meet their required investment outcomes. As part of this approach, the firm has developed a customised approach to responsible investment solutions, which draws on a proprietary data and rating resource, Prime,” he explains. “This approach to responsible investment is also a feature of the Responsible Horizons range of solutions launched by Insight last year, which seek to emphasise the best and avoid the worst performers on ESG issues, avoid investments in industries that have a negative impact, apply a higher hurdle when considering investments in environmentally sensitive industries and reflect long-term themes such as climate change.”
“Sustainable investing has been a part of my career for so long now that I consider it to be fundamental in almost everything I do,” says Klevenstedt. His approach has evolved over the years, however, moving away from exclusion-based thinking and towards a more data-driven search for the best-in-class companies along with the ones in transition. It is one of the questions he thinks more investors need to ask themselves: “Are you going to stick to your exclusion policy, or are you adopting a strategy where you will try and participate in the transition in some of the companies?”
Another challenge that investors are facing currently, according to Klevenstedt, is integrating ESG into their alternative portfolios. Asset managers need to step up and help them. “As an example, Insight has been working hard to improve the transparency of ESG risks in structured credit, an asset class which poses unique challenges in this respect given the paucity of data, lack of market reporting standards and inconclusive implications of ESG risks for returns. Insight works closely with issuers and uses proprietary ESG questionnaires to help evaluate securitisations,” he says. “We hope this effort will help to standardise the level of disclosure across the industry.”
Klevenstedt is firmly convinced that as an investor, it is important to choose an asset manager who walks the talk. “Everyone today speaks about sustainability, but if you look under the hood, do they practice what they preach? Are they really challenging the companies as well as themselves for a better tomorrow? Last year, Insight conducted 1,210 engagements, of which 90% incorporated discussions of ESG issues, and we are a proactive member of a range of industry associations and participate in collaborative initiatives to support engagements on material issues,” says he.
Rounding up the interview, Klevenstedt admits that he has, at times, been surprised by the actual impact asset managers can have on companies they engage with. “It is possible to make a difference,” he concludes.
Picture courtesy of Johan Klevenstedt (edited by NordSIP)