It's a great time to start your career in the field of sustainable investment
How and when did you start at Kempen and how did you get to where you are now?
I started at Kempen in June 2017. The position of director RI became available and Kempen approached me to see if I would be interested in this role. I was familiar with the organization and really liked Kempens culture, and the fact that it was an active investment house. Kempen was known in the market for its active ownership approach. So, it was the culture and determination to take the next steps on the sustainability journey that attracted me to the firm.
What also attracted me is that Kempen wanted to start with impact investing and launch new funds in this space. When I joined in the first year, I worked closely with Marjoleine van der Peet from the MMT team to launch the Global Impact Pool. GIP is targeting both financial return and social and environmental outcomes linked to UN Sustainable Goals. We
developed an impact management and measurement framework for the fund and made a number of impactful investments for our clients since.
You are the director of sustainability & impact investing, a topic that has been booming the past decade, how do you stay up to date with the wealth of knowledge that’s added to this topic each day?
In the last years sustainability has indeed gone from niche to mainstream. It is important to realize that it is not possible to read everything regarding this topic. What is important is to identify key trends and initiatives and closely follow them. We have regular discussions about important topics with my team and exchange ideas. Furthermore I read a lot, listen to sustainability podcasts or attend and speak at conferences. I am also part of a number of Dutch and International working groups where we develop new sustainability / impact guidelines and best practices or engage with companies.
Sustainability is one of the pillars of Van Lanschot Kempen, do you think that we attract a different clientele because of this?
In the past, sustainability was a differentiating factor among the different asset managers. Today it is something that all asset managers find important so it is difficult to differentiate them just on this factor. These days ESG integration, engagement voting are part of all RfPs and is one of the key criteria that clients select their managers on. So, also at VLK it is important to show to our clients that sustainability is truly embedded in everything that we do from our culture to our investments. I believe that many clients come to VLK because they are able to see that we are really walking the walk on sustainability.
How do you incorporate sustainability within your daily life?
Pre-corona time I always came to the office by public transport and I bike as much as possible in my daily life. I reduce my meat consumption to once, maybe twice a week. I try to avoid buying fast fashion clothing and, when possible, try to exchange cloths with others. We recycle as much as possible at home and I would also like to reduce my packaging use further.
If you could give advice to yourself at the start of your career, what piece of advice would that be?
I’m not sure if I would do something entirely different. I’m quite happy with the career path that I’ve taken and my current field of work.
If I was to give advice to young people starting in the field of asset sustainability today, it’s a great time to start your career in the field: it has meaning, you feel like you are contributing, working with a diverse range of people. I would say don’t doubt yourself: it’s a learning curve, take one step at a time, learn from your peers, learn from your senior colleagues and build that knowledge gradually. It’s a very complex and ever changing environment, and the way you adapt to it will define your career success.