Transcendent Group is a management consultancy specialising in Governance, Risk and Compliance. They have hosted several webinars on sustainable finance, offer insights on sustainability in the GRC-context, and joined S-HUB this fall. Moreover, Transcendent Group has been named a ‘Gasellebedrift’ by DN two years in a row and rank number four on the Great Place to Work-list for Norway in 2020.
We had the pleasure of talking with Fredrik Fogde, who is a Senior Consultant advising on ESG risks and opportunities in relation to financial institutions, at Transcendent Group.
How did you become interested in sustainability?
My interest in sustainable development stems from my childhood, and from spending 15 of my most formative years in Laos. There I experienced first-hand the need for sustainable development, as well as some of pitfalls of development aid. I became convinced that a key element to sustainable development is responsible business practices by companies.
After the disappointing outcome of COP 2009 in Copenhagen, my sights were set on the topic of climate change, and how the economy and businesses can transition to a low-carbon economy, without regulation being the push factor.
Please tell us a bit about your background
I studied development studies at Copenhagen Business School after which I in 2013 moved to Zurich to join a start-up called Climate Neutral Investments. The start-up had a really exciting idea, which was to measure the carbon footprint of investment portfolios, and offer investors the option to offset the corresponding emissions. These were early days in terms of thinking about climate risks of investments, and while few investors were willing to pay for carbon credits, it soon became clear that the measurement of climate impact and risk itself, was gaining increasing focus.
What followed were four thrilling years where the topic exploded, and the business saw a widening and deepening of methodology and services developed. In 2017 we had grown from 2 to 8 employees, and we were acquired by ISS, an international service provider to the finance industry. After 3 years of integrating and cementing our business at ISS, it felt like a natural end to an exciting journey and I decided to pursue new challenges at Transcendent Group.
At Transcendent Group, I work with what I see as the next frontier for ESG and sustainability operations, namely to fully integrate these topics into risk management, strategy and compliance processes.
Who is your sustainability role model?
Greta Thunberg. Every time I hear one of her urgent, unabashed, and soul-piercing speeches, I am reminded that “we are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it”. It replenishes my motivation and makes me want to work harder for a sustainable future.
What are the greatest (sustainability) challenges and opportunities for your industry?
Travel. Management consultancy firms are flying in experts left and right, but Covid-19 has shown us that a lot of the tasks that has traditionally been tackled by on-site teams can be solved without unsustainable travel. We’re trying to educate and challenge our clients about this, and about the silver lining of being able to use resources cross-border without paying for travel expenses. In terms of opportunities, we see several opportunities in terms of the services we offer. With ESG data and topics becoming increasingly mature, the time has arrived to treat ESG risk management and reporting with the same scrutiny as financial reporting and governance.
Moving onward, what are your plans and goals?
In line with market developments and client expectations, we are expanding our materiality analysis to also focus on financial materiality. Depending on the outcome of this, we will look to potentially expand on our current sustainability strategy to include elements from a double-materiality point of view.
Any advice for other companies?
We are a relatively small company, and our advice would be directed towards other smaller companies, for whom sustainability topics and reporting are often cited as too burdensome and resources intensive. Our advice would be that it does not have to be, and that setting up a ESG framework can identify otherwise hidden risks and opportunities for your organisation.