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‘A natural step to be able to work with sustainability in practice’

“After working for many years in the Ministry of Finance and negotiating the new sustainability rules, it felt natural to come out into ‘the real world’ and have a chance to work with them in practice,” comments Åsa Knudsen Sterte, SEB’s new sustainability advisor.

Åsa took up her new role in February as senior advisor in Climate & Sustainable Finance, a unit in Sustainable Banking. She joins SEB from the Ministry of Finance, where she spent more than eight years, of which the last four in a specially appointed position in the financial markets department with focus on integrating sustainability in the rules for the financial market.

“I spent a great deal of my time working on Sweden’s behalf on negotiating the EU’s Sustainable Finance legislative proposal, including the Disclosure Regulation and the Taxonomy Regulation,” she says. “I was also the person in the Ministry of Finance who was responsible for devising the green framework prior to the issuance of the Swedish government’s first green bond. There I had the benefit of working together with my current, talented colleagues at SEB.”

Prior to this Åsa Knudsen Sterte worked with asset management in banking as well as for the Central Bank of Sweden and the Swedish National Institute of Economic Research.

What attracted you to SEB?

“In general, I felt like it was time to return to the private sector,” says Åsa. “Here I have an opportunity to benefit from my experience and expertise with the new regulations to combine sustainability and financial returns.

“Why I chose SEB in particular is because I believe that SEB stand behind what they say and have an agenda that is permeated by the philosophy that sustainability is not merely a matter of altruism, but a necessary precondition for creating future financial returns and positive economic development.”

What is your role at the bank?

“My job entails working with products for customers such as sustainability-linked loans and bonds, green bonds, and social bonds. Among other things it involves establishing frameworks and structures for these arrangements.

“Then, I hope to be able to contribute on a slightly broader plane to the customer dialogue. Here we are well-positioned since we have employees who have worked with the taxonomy at the expert group level as well as people who have developed the Impact Metric Tool for analysing portfolios based on the taxonomy.

“Together with my experience we thus cover the entire spectrum in our advice. I have a hard time believing there is any other bank that is better-positioned when it comes to serving as a sounding board for customers wondering how they will position themselves with respect to the new rules and regulations going forward.”