Image for post
Image for post

What would Nikola Tesla say about Elon Musk? Would he, as one of the most genius scientists that ever walked on this planet, view Mr. Musk’s incredible business achievements in the same light as stock markets are viewing them? Would he be proud of the fact that Mr. Musk runs his family name for a car brand? Would he, like Edison told Tesla in 1884, not understand “American Humor”?

Let’s begin this story with Nikola Tesla. He deserves to be part of it.

Nikola Tesla (1856–1943)

Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. …


When you assess the climate data of the largest listed companies in this supposedly green country, something is clearly not right.

Image for post
Image for post
In the Copenhagen Airport you are greeted by a billboard advertisement from Carlsberg, one of Denmark’s biggest emitters.

(Below is a summary of the points I made in an interview with Danish business weekly Mandag Morgen. I decided to do this summary in English because it’s relevant for people in other countries too. Here’s the original article in Danish.)

Denmark is well-known for being a climate pioneer and frontrunner.

However, according to our new ‘climate projection model’, based on data from all Danish listed companies, the planet’s temperature would rise by three degrees by the year 2100 — a whole lot more than the minimum requirements of the Paris Agreement — if all countries followed the same path as Denmark. …


Image for post
Image for post

A ‘just transition’ for workers and communities was included as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Research has shown that the shift to a resilient, low-carbon economy presents an opportunity for job and wealth creation.

However this shift also presents transitional challenges for workers, communities and countries. Those in the UK will recall all too vividly the effect in the 1980’s of the Conservative government’s decision to close 20 coal mines. The scars left by this decision are still felt socially and politically in the UK today.

Nick Robins is Professor in Practice for Sustainable Finance at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Institute. Over the past 3 years he has been focusing on how to mobilise finance for a just transition. …


Image for post
Image for post
My good colleague Florian Esterer at his desk in Zürich!

Can you invest in UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?

As surprising as it may sound, the answer is actually “yes”. At J. Safra Sarasin, we recently launched an SDG fund entitled SDG Opportunities.

In what is now becoming a colleague interview series (read my previous interview with Robin Rouger and Pierin Menzli), I wanted to learn more about how this fund works — and if it pays off.

And so, I did an interview with Florian Esterer who’s the Lead Portfolio Manager of the new SDG fund. …


Image for post
Image for post

In the midst of the pandemic, it’s critical that we don’t neglect climate change. Sometimes when people get pre-occupied with one risk, to the left of them, they don’t see what’s coming from the right. And then it hits you even harder.

Thankfully, climate change has not been forgotten. At the moment, we see a lot of nations declaring climate emergency, and green initiatives are somewhat embedded in COVID-19 support packages in many countries.

So what is the status on climate change? What is the problem really? What are the solutions?

I wanted to take a step back and get an overview or high level status on climate change, and I thought who better to interview and ask than Svein Tveitdal, former UNEP Director from Norway. Svein is still very active in the climate change debate, not least on Twitter. …


Image for post
Image for post
Pierin Menzli (behind) and myself in our office in Zürich.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. Or, to be more precise, it has amplified and accelerated certain trends and developments, while exposing the weaknesses of other areas of society and business.

Some business models, products and skills have become old fashioned over night in what has been a remarkable push towards digitalisation, agility and resilience.

One winner this year has been the healthcare sector, at least insofar that we now see very clearly the importance of it. And also better see the need to innovate and further develop this sector to respond to future needs and demands.

As such, the timing of the launch of JSS’ future health fund late last year seems almost uncanny. But even if COVID-19 hadn’t happened, the area of future health would have been both vital and extremely interesting looking ahead. …


Image for post
Image for post

The financial industry has an issue with climate data. Even though we’ve come a long way the past decade, we still rely on sub-optimal data when assessing how companies perform in relation to climate. Are they reducing emissions as promised? Are their efforts in line with the climate pledges made in the Paris Agreement?

It’s extremely hard to tell, for many reasons. First of all, the numbers are self-reported. We still don’t have a trusted 3rd party verification system when it comes to reporting of climate-related numbers.

Another issue is that we need to take the context of each company into account, and it’s not easy to score companies on the same scale across countries and industries. For example, you could argue that an oil major that is changing its course for the better is more admirable and has a bigger net positive effect than a company that is born ‘green’ but is now resting on its laurels. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Anthony Quintano / Creative Commons

It is a bit spooky to write about tech firms, previously Amazon and Alibaba, and now Facebook. One man, one idea and a huge leap of faith are some of the characteristics of people shaping our world today — and our future. Again and again, all the systems, all the tech, all of it — it is all about people. Is Facebook a different story? Join me and discover world of tech Gods.

Social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg ranks among the most powerful men in the world. As the head of Facebook, Zuckerberg became a billionaire at a very young age. And yet, we know relatively little about Zuckerberg. …


Image for post
Image for post

In March, right before COVID-19 hit us, I gave a speech at the Iceland Business Forum 2020 conference in Reykjavík.

In my speech, I tried to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from traveling the world the past 20 years to meet businesses and communities.

Travels made to understand 1) how the financial industry can invest in sustainable businesses to contribute to a sustainable development, and 2) what the true impact of sustainability is on the billions of people around the world (that we invest in every day).

My main point in the speech was that our current economic model is simply not fit for the future. It’s too short-sighted. We are facing some enormous challenges with regards not only to climate change, but also to just transition and big demographic changes. And we simply won’t be able to solve these issues if we don’t rebalance our economic model and take externalities better into account. …


Image for post
Image for post

To understand a business, you have to understand or at least sense the people behind it. After all, it is always and will be only about people. Don’t be mistaken by the numbers that you see further down in this piece. They can fool anyone, lead you astray.

It is about Jack, all of it. Although as simple as it may sound, Jack Ma has gone through a lot to get to where he is today. A true rags-to-riches story. Jack Ma was born in Hangzhou, located in the south-eastern part of China. He was born and raised along with an elder brother and a younger sister during the rise of communist China and its isolation from the Western regions. …

About

Sasja Beslik

MD, Head of Sustainable Finance Dev. at J. Safra Sarasin, the world’s leading private bank on sustainable finance. Author of “Guld och gröna skogar” (2019).

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store