Stockholm (NordSIP) – It is time for the next step in Katarina Hammar’s career, less than a year after joining Lannebo as Head of Sustainability and Corporate Governance. In June, she announced that she would be returning to Nordea, where she had previously worked for more than sixteen years, to take up a position as Head of Corporate Governance for the Nordic giant’s fund company.
“I have really enjoyed my time at Lannebo and have, together with my great colleagues there, achieved a lot. Yet, when Nordea Funds approached me, I had to evaluate the opportunity,” says Hammar. “The timing was not perfect,” she admits. “But the combination of a dedicated corporate governance role, an international environment, and the scale that working for the biggest Nordic fund manager implies proved irresistible.”
Growing through experience
Hammar has spent most of her career at Nordea, yet moving to Lannebo was not the first time she ventured outside the Nordic giant. Her previous experience includes an array of different organisations, from Nordic Equities Fondkommission to AP4, PWC, AMF Pension and SEB, and varying areas such as equity analysis, product development and risk and performance measurement.
After working at Nordea for some years, Hammar realised that what really matters to her is sustainability as a value driver. “It was a serious illness in my close family that made me reflect earnestly on what is important and what I want to spend my days doing,” she shares. “I knew that what drives me is curiosity and the constant desire for personal growth. Discovering the world of sustainable investing was a revelation – there was so much to learn, and, at the same time, it felt meaningful to contribute to responsible and sustainable investments,” she recalls.
“Corporate governance is the foundation to secure efficient, sustainable and responsible companies,” asserts Hammar. This explains perhaps her genuine enthusiasm for the new mission she is embarking upon. “I intend to work as a responsible owner and closely with my old colleagues at Nordea Asset Management, especially the Portfolio Managers and the Active Ownership team, responsible for the engagement activities,” says Hammar. “We need to align the stewardship work, especially on important ESG resolutions and if we are voting against the board of directors at the AGM,” she adds.
You can’t do it alone
According to Hammar, collaborative initiatives are essential for driving the sustainability agenda forward. To that end, Nordea Funds has joined several investment coalitions, including the International Corporate Governance Network, PRI Stewardship, Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, IIGCC, Climate Action 100+ and Investor Alliance on Human Rights.
To illustrate what such collaborative efforts can achieve, she points out Nordea’s engagement with Petrobras on methane emissions. “As a lead for the Climate Action 100+ investors engaging with the company, we chose to focus on the urgency of reducing its methane emissions,” she says. “As a result of our engagement, Petrobras acknowledged the importance of this issue and conducted an extensive technical review on the feasibility of reporting according to the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0, the gold standard in methane measurement, reporting and target setting. In January 2023, the company announced that it had joined the framework,” says Hammar proudly.
“Our ambition is to vote in at least 90% of all general meetings in the companies in which we hold equities,” says Hammar. “In 2022, we voted at about 3 900 general meetings on thousands of proposals.” Which, of course, begs the question of priorities. “We do vote and engage on a myriad of issues, but on some, we have a focused stance. We strongly believe, for instance, that the Chief Executive should not be the same person as the Chairman of the Board, so, over the last couple of years, we have supported many proposals to split the roles,” she explains. “Our ambition is also to be active in approximately forty nomination committees to secure efficient and sustainable board members,” she adds.
As to her priorities going forward, the new Head of Corporate Governance has already decided what she will focus on. “We want to actively engage with companies in a predictable and consistent manner to contribute to returns with responsibility for our clients. Examples of areas where we will seek to engage are the climate, efficient boards of directors and executive compensation,” says Hammar. “We shall strive to be transparent with our engagements and voting records, including the rationale behind our actions, such as being ESG pro-active.”
These and many other issues will certainly keep her and her colleagues at Nordea Funds busy for the foreseeable future.