Knut Hellandsvik, Head of Equities
Needless to say, it has been a very special year. The pandemic has triggered the sharpest fall in global equities market we have seen in modern times, but also the sharpest recovery. In these types of market conditions, we experience a lot of client activity. As stock prices fell, we experienced primarily capital outflows, while funds returned during the recovery phase. Overall, we have actually experienced net inflow this year. Due to the high volatility, our trading desk has been exceptionally busy and we have spent a lot of time communicating with clients. Probably the biggest impact of the virus was the change in the way we work: we have been rotating days in the office and we have actively been using video conferencing and other digital tools – both internally and externally. While part of our team usually spends a lot of time visiting companies and attending conferences, most of this year's activities have taken place digitally.
The biggest impact of the virus was the change in the way we work: rotating days in the office and actively using video conferencing - both internally and externally.
Leading a team of more than 30 professionals, I spend a lot of my day talking to the various team members. The fund management industry is highly competitive. Therefore, I see my most important job as attracting and keeping the best talents in the industry and offering them a good working environment. Of course, I also spend a lot of time on following the financial markets through newsflow, calls with management teams and research analysts. Furthermore, I keep a close dialogue with our various sales teams and investors in our funds. Last but not least, we all spend a significant amount of time on making sure we are operating according to various regulations and within our risk mandates. The regulatory pressure on our industry has increased tremendously over the last few years and requires constant attention. The latter is probably not the most exciting part of the work, but essential.
Svein Aage Aanes, Head of Fixed Income
The pandemic has had a major impact on my work. The market impact in March and April was massive in all markets, including the Nordic fixed income markets. Workwise, we have split up the team, having parts of the team working from home to mitigate personal risk. At the same time, we have had to start thinking about unprecedented risks for sectors and companies stemming from the virus and the measures implemented to contain it. These risks are two-sided: on the one hand, a worsening of the virus situation will hit certain sectors and companies hard - just think of the service, travel and tourism sectors. On the other hand, improvements in the virus situation can lead to a recovery of the affected sectors and companies. Although the pandemic has influenced our way of working and thinking, in some senses the impact is less severe. Since mid- to late April much of what we do has felt, at least to a large extent, as business as usual. Markets have been well behaved, liquidity has been quite strong, and the workdays have returned more or less to normal. Also, thinking about the risks and opportunities arising from the virus situation has become a natural part of the ongoing discussions we have about sectors and individual companies.
We have had to start thinking about unprecedented risks for sectors and companies stemming from the virus.
It is a bit difficult to describe a normal working day, as no two days are alike. As head of fixed income and FX, I am involved in various parts of our operation - from investment strategy through discussions concerning single issuers to client meetings. In between there are internal investment and credit committee meetings as well as some administrative tasks. Lately, I have also been involved in our work on the valuation of issuers in our local markets in collaboration with our ESG team.
Janicke Scheele, Head of Responsible Investments
DNB Asset Management has been working with responsible and sustainable investments for decades and has been an UN PRI Signatory since 2006. We emphasize not only reactive engagement but also proactive thematic engagements, voting and integrating ESG risks and opportunities in investment decisions. However, Covid-19 did not change our approach, but demonstrated the mutual influence of ESG risks and opportunities. The pandemic has highlighted the interconnections between health, our environment and the economy, accelerating ESG trends and driving the need for a more sustainable approach to investment. From an investor perspective, ESG isn’t diminishing with the pandemic, but has rather increased the focus on ESG integration in investments decisions.
We have also observed an increase in human rights-related shareholder resolutions. Human rights due diligence proposals have also done particularly well this proxy season. Not least COVID-19 has shown the importance of a good corporate governance assessment of the consequences of external exposure such as pandemics, terrorism, physical climate risks and socio-political risks. Companies must be better prepared for other external threats in the future.
ESG isn’t diminishing with the pandemic, but has rather increased the focus on ESG integration in investments decisions.
A regular working day for me and my team may include meetings or discussions with stakeholders - such as customers and companies we are working with, NGOs or other members of civil society. We spend our time analysing companies and examining the financial impact of ESG risks and opportunities on the companies we cover. As part of this ESG integration, we think it is important to focus on the relevant and important factors and not only on what is measurable. We are currently focusing not least on the climate and the upcoming regulations on sustainable financing, such as the EU taxonomy.
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