One of Finsif’s original objectives was to enable sustainable investing becoming mainstream in Finland. As this has now happened, Finsif’s board 2021, led by Chairperson Marja Karttunen, is defining the strategy for the coming years. In addition, we are in the process of updating our flagship material, Finsif’s guide to sustainable investing, and planning to release it in English to our international audience in June. I share with you some thoughts about Finsif’s current operating environment.
Finsif celebrated its first decade last year. On one hand, the pandemic created huge uncertainty, but on the other hand it boosted sustainable businesses and investing globally. We at Finsif firmly believe that sustainable investing is a path to success in the midst of turbulence and crises. The development during Finsif’s existence has indicated that this far, we have been on the right track.
Our Market Study 2019 (in Finnish, English summary) showed that, compared to our precedent study in 2017, responsible investing continued to grow and strengthen its position in Finland. According to the study, organizational values are the main drivers of Finnish responsible investing. Compared to 2017, ESG integration has overtaken exclusion as the most popular strategy, and the popularity of positive screening is growing rapidly. Impact investing is getting more and more attention, too. To my understanding, many stakeholders are especially interested in this form of sustainable investing.
International forums are gaining importance, according to our member survey last autumn. This time of remote work, with all its complications, has given the NordicSIFs a valuable opportunity to cooperate more closely. This year, Finsif strengthens the collaboration with other NordicSIFs and follows closely the development of Eurosif’s operations. In addition, we are looking forward to continuing to invite international speakers to our webinars. Last October, it was a great pleasure having Emelia Holdaway from IIGCC to speak at our webinar on climate change and sustainable recovery.
During the recent years, we have seen a rapid growth of interest towards Finsif, both in our member pool and amongst stakeholders. As Leila Räsänen, Finsif’s coordinator (on maternity leave) put it: “When I started in 2016, I asked the current chair of the board if there was any more work I could do. She told me to wait and see, more work would come. At the beginning of 2018, it really hit me. Before that, recruiting new board members had required some phone calls, but now there were more interested candidates than could be nominated. In addition, we started to get more suggestions for collaboration and invites for spreading the word of sustainable investing. The number of events, along with the number of participants in each event, increased. Sustainable investment as a theme had placed its feet on the investment scene. Most of the key players rapidly started to put effort into these issues and to develop company policies.”
The progress continues. Our member pool has grown steadily and is at 80 members today, with over 530 billion euros of assets under management in total. There were plenty of excellent candidates to the board 2021, and our member survey revealed a lot of interest in volunteering to Finsif’s working groups. All Finsif members are warmly welcome to express their interest to the coordinator and the board and participate.
Finsif is a neutral information channel and a platform for exchanging ideas and networking. Our goal is to bring forward different perspectives, rising themes and useful tools, giving our members the opportunity to choose and put into practice those that they see as the most beneficial. At the moment, Finsif’s focus areas are climate change, EU regulation and ESG data. However, we work on other issues as well, for instance this year’s first events have been organized on human rights and biodiversity. During my time as coordinator, we have had discussions and collaboration projects with over 20 stakeholder organizations. These include, for instance, the Bank of Finland, which joined Finsif last year, and Unicef Finland, with whom we co-hosted a webinar on considering child rights in the investing process (check their guide here).
One motivation for Finsif membership is staying informed about the latest trends of sustainable investing. As an international member said, the North European countries are interesting as they lead the way in corporate responsibility and sustainable investing. The current trends in the Nordics will later rise in the rest of the world. We will take this opportunity to drive the change seriously, won’t we? Let’s show them.
This article is the last of the NordicSIF blog series 2020 hosted by Finsif. The earlier articles of the NordicSIF series are available below: