Sasja Beslik

Sasja Beslik

Chief Investment Strategy Officer, SDG Impact Japan. Author of “Where the Money Tree Grows” (2021) and the weekly newsletter "ESG on a Sunday"

Sasja Beslik is a Swedish and international financial expert known for promoting financial sustainability across the world. In 2004, he landed his first bank job as Head of Responsible Investments and later as deputy CEO at Banco Funds/ABN AMRO branch in Stockholm. His work for Nordea started in 2009, when he became head of responsible investments and corporate governance. He was named CEO of Nordea Investment Funds Sweden in 2011 and head of responsible investments and identity at Nordea Asset Management in 2013. Finally, at the beginning of 2017, Nordea placed Beslik at the head of a new unit, Sustainable Finance, tasked with implementing the decisions made by the company's corporate responsibility unit.
He is the author of the books "Where the Money Tree Grows" (2021) and "Guld och gröna skogar" (2019) and the weekly newsletter "ESG on a Sunday". In 2019, he left Nordea to join Bank J. Safra Sarasin. In 2021 he joined biggest Danish commercial Pension Company PFA as Head of Sustainability. In 2022, he joined NextGen ESG in Japan as Chief Investment Officer. Beslik won the Swedish Banking Profile of the Year award in 2016. In 2013, he received the H. M. The King's Medal, 8th size with the ribbon of the Order of the Seraphim from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden for outstanding contributions within Swedish environmental and sustainability theory.
He was chosen as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in 2011 Stars Fund, the Nordea sustainable fund launched by Beslik in 2011, was chosen as Sweden's best overall equity fund in 2017. It was the first sustainable fund to receive the award. In 2020, Beslik was ranked the world's most influential person within green finance.

ESG is all about value creation

Current ESG analysis practices deployed around the world by financial institutions, asset managers and asset owners rely on qualitative and quantitative analysis of ESG metrics, contextual and factual, reported by companies on annual basis. ESG analysis in general focuses on understanding how company X manages sector specific risks and opportunities (whereas risk management has priority). Sector risks are assigned based on subjective understanding & interpretation of potential ESG risk having significant or limited potential impact on company financial performance and or valuation.

Financial metrics are not assigned in terms of % of revenue affected by “bad or non-existent” Human Rights policy. Limited information is available on product and or service level in terms of potential revenue stream aligned with EU taxonomy. Exact numbers or appreciation of financial impact, positive or negative, is not currently available. Only estimates are available and used in many cases as a proxy for investment decisions. Company is assigned certain risk & opportunity-profile, translated into alphabetic or numerical rating. Depending on analytical model asset manager is using (passive, active, bottom up, thematic, quantitative, etc) rating and or underlying ESG data can be trenched, skewed, or extracted and transformed (with large portion of estimates) into portfolio management decisions making process.

All investment decisions are forward looking, i.e., based on expectations that company X will reach or exceed certain targets and, in that process, investor will gain certain profit in reference to starting point of the investment. In principle investors using current ESG data sets are making forward-looking investment decisions based on ESG datasets covering past ESG (mostly risk) management performance of the company. Certain ESG data related to information on products & services is limited and where available, in most of the cases not connected to company overall growth strategy for certain client, market or geography segment. In other words, there is no connection between what, where and how company plans to grow and how ESG measure deployed by company will enable, hinder, or prevent further growth. The core challenge of current ESG approaches is that they try to identify how can certain aspects of ESG (when managed and translated into risks and opportunities) related to specific company add value to company business, where at the same time, the same ESG aspects are not integrated (valuated) into the growth strategies (product & service & market) of companies

Most ESG approaches simply do not go beyond screening and ESG integrations are often either unclear in methodology or using only limited ESG information. As they fail to get ESG factors linked with the fundamentals of each corporate, and eventually into valuation models, they also fail to show their relevance to mainstream analysts and portfolio managers. And as long as that is the case, ESG will remain marginal. Asset Managers need to show how ESG contributes to strengthen business offering, products, and services as well as how it, over time increases, corporate value.