New Head Eager to Lead Nordea AM’s Engagement Efforts

    Stockholm (NordSIP) – At the beginning of October, Nordea Asset Management (NAM) confirmed the appointment of Cecilia Fryklöf as Head of Active Ownership. In this role, she is replacing Nordea veteran Katarina Hammar who left the bank a few months ago to become Head of Sustainability and Corporate Governance at Lannebo. Fryklöf is well-versed in NAM’s sustainability approach, having worked at Nordea for the past fifteen years, most recently as Business Area Lead, Asset & Wealth Management within the bank’s Group Sustainability. She was previously at Nordea Life and Pensions, where she focused on ESG integration, regulation, and engagement.

    As NAM’s new head of active ownership, Fryklöf is joining one of Europe’s largest and most experienced Responsible Investments teams. She will lead a group of seven dedicated engagement specialists within the broader responsible investment team of twenty-nine.

    “I believe it is my investment expertise combined with my experience in working with sustainability, both operationally and strategically, that has led me to my current position,” shares Fryklöf with NordSIP. “I embrace the opportunity to serve NAM and the broader finance community further in my new role,” she adds.

    Active ownership is a crucial component of Nordea’s responsible investment philosophy. Every year, the team conducts a range of structured engagements, typically in close contact with portfolio managers. Last year NAM led 1,033 engagements focusing on climate, human rights, biodiversity, water, and good governance.

    “Active ownership is and has always been a cornerstone of NAM’s investment approach,” asserts Fryklöf. “NAM doesn’t take the easy way out, and we undertake a range of engagement activities to create meaningful real-world impact. Active ownership applies to all our products, whether through voting or engagement. Our approach includes norms- and incident-based, investment-led, and thematic engagements. We favour engagement over exclusion as the most effective way to bring about change because we’re looking for solutions, not just avoidance,” she explains.

    Fryklöf’s personal take on sustainable investing seems to fit neatly with that of NAM. “I believe that responsible investment is a key part of every asset manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients,” she explains. “We strive to deliver attractive returns, but at the same time, we work hard to integrate ESG principles that will, in the long term, deliver both financial returns and a positive contribution to society. I think ESG integration and active ownership are effective tools to reduce risks, maximise returns and yield a positive impact on society and the environment.”

    NAM’s new head of active ownership believes that responsible investors can do a lot to regain and strengthen the credibility of ESG and sustainable investing in general. “Trust is fundamentally important and takes time to build,” she says. “The new ESG regulations will certainly help to build trust, and I think transparency is key. At NAM, we work hard to be transparent about our sustainable investment objectives and to explain how we apply ESG principles in practice. Our voting portal, for instance, is a publicly available record of our voting activities,” she adds.

    In her new role, Fryklöf will strive to continue the NAM legacy of fostering positive change for society and the environment, protecting shareholder value to enhance long-term returns. “The current inflation scenario and the geopolitical situation certainly present challenges, but we will not take our foot off the pedal. Now, more than ever, our world needs real ESG solutions,” concludes Fryklöf.

    Image courtesy of Nordea
    Julia Axelsson, CAIA
    Julia Axelsson, CAIA
    Julia has accumulated experience in asset management for more than 20 years in Stockholm and Beijing, in portfolio management, asset allocation, fund selection and risk management. In December 2020, she completed a program in Sustainability Studies at the University of Linköping. Julia speaks Mandarin, Bulgarian, Hindi, Russian, Swedish, Urdu and English. She holds a Master in Indology from Sofia University and has completed studies in Economics at both Stockholm University and Stockholm School of Economics.

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