Stockholm (NordSIP) – Danish AP Pension has been on the lookout for a new Chief Investment Officer since June this year when it became clear that Rasmus Cederholm would be leaving the organisation to join money manager Formuepleje. On 3 November, the pension fund announced it had finally found a worthy replacement: Pernille Jessen. She will assume her new position as CIO on 1 January 2024.
Finding the right person for the job
“I look forward to welcoming Pernille to AP Pension in the new year,” comments Bo Normann Rasmussen, the CEO of AP Pension (in Danish). “We have a well-functioning and stable investment team that has proven time and time again that it can create good, long-term returns for our customers. Therefore, we have taken our time to find the right candidate for the position, and I am convinced that we have now succeeded.”
With her solid investment and academic background, Jessen is indeed well-prepared to take on the task of leading the investment organisation. She joins AP Pension from a position as co-CIO at AkademikerPension. Previously, she was Head of Fixed Income and Credit at Akademikerpension. Prior to that, Jessen worked at Unipension as Head of Credit and portfolio manager and as an economist at Danmarks Nationalbank. Apart from a degree in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Copenhagen, she also earned a PhD in Finance from Aarhus University.
Jessen sounds confident about her career move and humble upon assuming the leading role in an organisation she respects. “AP Pension is uniquely positioned as an independent, client-owned pension fund,” she explains. “It has a proven track record of innovative focus on sustainability and green transition coupled with high ambitions for long-term returns. The investment team has a strong foundation which should help navigate the challenges that all long-term investors will inevitably face. I am grateful that I will be joining this journey with the team,” she adds.
With sustainability at heart
According to AP Pension’s CEO, one of the features that distinguished Jessen among many other qualified candidates and propelled her to the top of the list is her passion for sustainable investing. “AP Pension has come a long way on the sustainability journey, and this is something we have ambitions to expand further,” says Normann Rasmussen. “Pernille brings knowledge and experience that fits in well here, so I am confident that she is the right person to lead our talented team,” he adds.
Sustainability has been a recurring theme throughout Jessen’s career, and she is aware of joining a company with a tradition of leading the way. “AP Pension has a clear profile within sustainability and green transition and ambitions to further strengthen its approach,” she says. “I believe this focus is crucial for a long-term investor – but it is equally important to maintain focus on delivering competitive returns. AP Pension has demonstrated that it is quite possible to deliver this combination. My task will, therefore, not be to revolutionise but to ensure continued development by building on the strong foundation that the investment team already has,” adds the incoming CIO.
AP Pension was the first commercial pension company in Denmark to launch, back in 2019, an investment line focusing on responsible and sustainable development, aiming to contribute to reaching the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “I think it was a smart move by AP Pension and today, all the commercial companies have a similar offer for their customers, so it has become a real competitive parameter,” comments Jessen. “For me, this is interesting, as I am passionate about responsible value creation and building investment portfolios that match customers’ preferences for sustainability.”
On a mission
As an investor, Jessen has a heightened sense of purpose. Last year, she was one of a select group of Nordic professionals that NordSIP featured in an article celebrating female investment talent. “Investing and allocating capital is a vital part of a well-functioning society, but the financial world has had a hard time in the public eye ever since the global financial crisis,” she reflected then. “I think we need to be better at showing that you can make a difference for many people when working as a professional investor.” With her new appointment, Jessen will continue to do precisely that.
The newly appointed CIO sounds eager to get started with her ambitious agenda. “AP Pension’s mission is to deliver best-in-class pension products, with compelling opportunities for clients to choose to lean into the green transition and sustainable development. I intend to do my very best to contribute to achieving this,” pledges Jessen.