HOW CAN NORDEA ACCELERATE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?

This question is at the heart of ASAP and we’re excited to share what we’ve learned about Nordea, Northern Europe's largest financial group. There is a lot to say about Nordeas sustainability work and the content on this page is a selection made by the ASAP team. The aim is to provide some insights into the financial industry, its challenges and opportunities and to focus on Nordea’s core business and role as a change agent for a sustainable society. In other words, how Nordea uses their core competencies and resources to accelerate sustainable development. Want to learn more? Check out Nordea’s own links at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Did you know?

  • Company superpowers: to deliver on ESG (Environmental, Social Governance) investment processes to drive change!
  • 33,000 employees in Nordea Group
  • Operates in 20 countries, including the four Nordic home markets
  • Gender distribution globally (% women/men) is 47/53 for entire workforce, 20/80 for executive officers and 45/55 for board of directors
  • CEO is Casper von Koskull
  • Head of Sustainable Finance is Sasja Beslik
  • Nordea is the largest bank by total assets in Sweden, Finland and Norway and the second in the Danish banking sector
  • Nordea was a partner of Climb for Climate in 2018 and during the project Nordea re-allocated SEK 7 billion into Sustainable investments!

CHANGE GOES WHERE THE MONEY FLOWS - AGREE OR DISAGREE?

We can probably agree on the fact that all major societal transformations both require and release capital. According to the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, the investments needed to reach the Global Goals are about $5 to $7 trillion per year (i.e surpassing the GDP of Japan!) per year and reaching them can unleash at least $12 trillion a year by 2030 and create 380 million jobs. The financial sector is the somewhat “invisible” infrastructure that enable us to transfer, save and borrow money to change, grow and achieve goals - individual and global! And choices matter. For example, moving your private savings to fossil-free funds is 27 times more efficient if you want to fight climate change compared to if you reduce meat consumption, take shorter showers, fly less and take the train instead of the car - combined! So imagine the speed of change if all banks had measures that would funnel money to initiatives that has a positive effect on the climate, equality, biodiversity, inclusion etc?! Exponential tech development and regulatory changes are important drivers in the industry today, rapidly making way for new financial services, currencies, Fintech companies, increased transparency, stricter sustainability requirements and rapid changing consumer behaviour. But it also means challenges in terms of making sure financial services are accessible and affordable to all individuals and businesses. As the largest bank in the Nordics, Nordea is determined to lead by example as an enabler in the transition towards a sustainable future and financial inclusion, while giving a good return. Nordea must in order to succeed with this work together with its employees, customers, partners and...YOU!

We find it fascinating how Nordea as a bank needs to be expert in so many various fields! Their success as a change agent depends on the ability to fully understand and work with customers and partners across countries, sectors and industries. So, let’s take a look at three ways in which Nordea accelerates sustainable development with their competence and industry insights within investments, financing and advice.

NORDEA ENABLES SMART INVESTMENTS

ESG - remember these three letters. It stands for Environmental, Social and Governance, and it’s the bank term for sustainability. It comprises a wide range of issues, that varies depending on the industry to industries. Take the example of a pharmaceutical company,it includes consideration of r water pollution from factories (E), workers safety and health (S) and transparency and corruption (G). In short, a sustainable investment is when Nordea conduct an ESG-analysis before buying shares in a company. It also means that when Nordea is a shareholder, it can take an active part in improving the management of ESG issues, by voting at annual meetings and making sure companies operate in line with own commitments such as the UN Principles on Responsible Investments (PRI) . So why is this “a thing” nowadays? Because ESG data is used to support and understand how companies are positioned to manage longer-term risks and opportunities. Companies that manage risks and proactively develop their business will perform better. This will provide equal or better returns that will make bank customers happy - and that’s why it makes business-sense for a bank! Got it?

Nordea enables impactful financing

Ever heard of green bonds? The demand for green bonds is booming in the Nordics in particular and green bonds are in general often referred to as an important source of finance for achieving the climate goals in the Paris agreement. As you know, to borrow money is a way for a company to finance something that they need or want. If that something is an initiative that also has a positive impact on the environment, it’s a win-win situation! This is what green bonds are all about and in essence, it’s like a loan. For example, if a real estate company wants to install solar panels on all its property, it can issue a green bond. Investors buy it (“lend” money), the company gets capital (“borrows” money) and pay interest to the investor that is now the bond owner. Nordea is a key enabler regarding green bonds both by issuing their own and serve as the intermediary helping actors to invest in or issue green bonds via the capital markets.

Nordea empowers others through their expertise

Do you have a smart business model but don’t know how to proceed? Do you at the same time want your savings to make the world a better place? No matter if you are running your own business, if you save a small amount each month or if you are a professional investor, Nordea and the financial industry will always be there as your partner. Nordea can through personal meetings with advisors, the use of mobile applications and robot advice enable sustainable offerings in all dialogues with customers and partners. It is not enough for Nordea to provide top of the edge ESG analysis, if customers and partners can’t understand the information or utilize the services. In order to achieve this Nordea need to inspire and engage not only customers and partners but also employees!

WHAT ABOUT RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS?

As the largest financial services group in the Nordic Region with 9,6 million household customers and 580,000 institutional customers as well as thousands of suppliers, there is no doubt that Nordea has an impact on society both locally and globally - and thus an obligation to operate responsibly and do things right. In this text we will not delve into Nordeas extensive work in the area of responsible business, such as supplier screening, compliance, fighting financial crime, employee equality and all the other themes they relentlessly work with, every day. This does NOT mean that it’s not important or that Nordea is perfect in every way, but for the purpose of this text we’ve chosen to leave it out. But hey, at the bottom of this page you can see our favorite tips for further reading!

What's the future of banking?

The financial sector is moving in the right direction in terms of tools and instruments that can accelerate sustainable development. Still, only 0,4% of all global investments today have ESG criteria integrated in the investment strategy! In other words - there is huge potential for Nordea to leverage on their expertise and get more households and companies to put their capital to work towards a more sustainable society. For this to happen, Nordea needs to continue to build awareness around the role and importance of the financial sector in general - and sustainable finance in particular. For household customers there is room for improvement even in basic financial literacy: According to the The S&P Global FinLit Survey (GFLS) financial literacy rates vary widely and on average 52 % of adults in the European Union are financially literate (i.e. answers correctly to 3 out of four topics on covering numeracy, Interest compounding, Inflation, Risk Diversification). Everyone, from leading politicians to students as well as the 33 000 employees of Nordea need to understand the potential and power of capital flows to create change by directing - and act. At the same time much of the future success of banks will depend on a bank’s ability to innovate their business and two aspects stand out. First we have digitalization. The most important differentiator to products and services in the future will be the experience that accompanies them. Customers are increasingly demanding frictionless and inclusive customer experience. Secondly, the importance of building financial ecosystems and powerful partnerships going forward. Nordea talks about a shift from Ego to Eco and an example of how they live their philosophy in practice is Nordea Open Banking. The goal is to strengthen the collaboration with FinTechs by providing premium APIs (application programming interface, i.e. a set of defined methods of communication between various components in software, databases etc) which fit their needs. To continue on its path of fully integrating sustainability its value chain to enable real change, it’s vital for Nordea to merge sustainability and digitalization and keep building awesome awareness. What do you need to know in order to make smarter savings and investments for yourself and the planet?