Go to main navigation Navigation menu Skip navigation Home page Search

Great research potential within socially labelled financing

Sophie Nachemson-Ekwall has recently written a third report on the market for social bonds and social outcome contracts and is looking forward to continuing her research in socially labelled financing. She appreciates the development of the social sustainability labelled financial market in the Nordic countries and is hoping for an even greater interest.

Sophie is a research fellow at the Center for Sustainability Research and part of Sustainable Finance Lab, who also works part time with social financing at PwC, ESG Social and Sustainable Supply chain. She previously works as a financial journalist for 20 years, was high ranked in the field and published several books. She received a doctoral degree in 2012 and thanks to her broad knowledge, she is frequently invited to participate in panels, hold seminars to practitioners and write commentaries. In recent years, her interest has shifted towards multiple ownership models, including cooperatives, social sustainability and financing.

"My research focus is related to the institutional framework of the emerging market for a social financial infrastructure, with a particular focus on Sweden and the Nordics. This involves financial instruments such as social bonds and social impact bonds. The research has a specific twist towards the implication for a welfare state", says Sophie.

In her research, she seeks to understand the institutional hindrances and enablers of actors' behavior. Sophie thinks that Sweden and the Nordic countries are good cases to study for this, as the structure of the tax-financed Nordic welfare state has made those countries less adaptive to the movement to open up social service to private capital as well as collaboration across sectors.

Research plans for the future

Sophie is planning to continue to cover the whole field for socially labelled financing, from impact investing, social enterprises and multiple ownership models. Looking ahead, she sees research potential following two themes: The first theme explores how societal impact can be assessed.  Investors in social financial instruments must be attentive to the context, addressing challenges for a specific group, in a specific area, with specific services.  A second themes focuses more on social sustainability includes both norms and legitimacy of private capital investing in public service, as well as metrics using outcome.

"I might also add a third theme, were I draw more on my previous research on corporate governance, sustainable value creation and the research-field addressing the sustainable corporation, as compared to the shareholder-centric corporation", she says.

Her hopes are that more companies, banks and organizations will make social sustainability a priority in their work. She also has some advice for consumers and finance professionals on how to get more involved in social finance.

"Since the market for socially labelled financing is developing, as well as metrics to evaluate impact, it is about finding different groups that participate in the forming of the market. A good start is to follow Icma, that has developed a framework for reporting on labelled bonds and loans, and the work in the EU related to sustainable financing", says Sophie.