New Nordea Life & Pensions owner sets out to make a difference

With LD´s former CFO Lars Wallberg at the helm, the customer-owned association Norliv is starting a new chapter and looking for ways to deploy the 20 percent of investment returns it will be handing over to charities focusing on working-age mental health. "In any modern society, stress is a huge problem," says Wallberg.
Lars Wallberg | Photo: PR-foto
Lars Wallberg | Photo: PR-foto
By Rachel Fixsen

Norliv, the association owned by 300,000 customers of Nordea Life & Pensions (NLP) Denmark, is slowly coming out of the shadows since adopting a new name and buying a 25 percent stake in the Danish savings institution earlier this year.

Previously called Foreningen NLP, Norliv has hired one of Denmark’s most experienced finance chiefs as its chief executive and is getting set to manage its DKK 8 billion (EUR 1.1 billion) of assets and decide how to deploy the funds that are earmarked for charity.

Lars Wallberg, Norliv’s new chief executive who was CFO at pension fund Lønmodtagernes Dyrtidsfond (LD) for six years, told AMWatch that for the time being, Norliv’s asset base will remain invested as it is — at least until the association’s administration has been set up.

DKK 5 billion in free assets

“We have DKK 2 billion invested in our minority stake of NLP Denmark, which is a strategic position we will of course keep, and on top of that we have a tier-one loan to NLP Denmark of DKK1bn,” he said.

“Then we have DKK 5 billion in free assets, which are discretionary assets that we manage ourselves,” he said.

Foreningen NLP exists due to the complex history of the Nordea banking group and Tryg, the insurance group, which came into being after of the Copenhagen Fire of 1728.

In November last year, it was decided that Foreningen NLP would buy a quarter of NLP Denmark’s capital and make the subsidiary partly mutually owned.

Right now, Norliv’s DKK 5 billion in free assets have been passed to Norliv in the form of the assets that Tryghedsgruppen selected when it was in charge of managing them.

They are invested according to a strategy aiming for 40 percent in fixed income instruments, 40 percent equities and 20 percent alternatives.

Most returns going back to members

Norliv’s task is to generate returns for its members on the strategic position and the discretionary portfolio, with 80 percent of these then being returned to members as a cash bonus through NLP, and the remaining 20 percent being donated to the charity sector that has been chosen by Norliv’s members — working-age mental health.

“From a social perspective, research shows that in any modern society, stress is a huge problem,” Wallberg says.

Norliv has to have a focused charitable goal for the sake of efficiency, he says, and to make it possible for the association to have enough in-house knowledge of the subject to enable it to make good decisions on how to deploy its members’ money.

“It is always very important that we have the relevant expertise so we can avoid projects that will lead nowhere, and so we know what the issues and solutions are in this area, as well as identifying who the serious players are in terms of NGOs, researchers and so on.

“Also, if we don't communicate a focused scope, we could find ourselves spending the next two years wading through the requests that come through,” he says.

Looing for investment analyst

At LD, Wallberg was in charge of keeping what is now DKK 43 billion of assets prudently invested.

The portfolio that has been handed to Norliv seems well-diversified, he says, but adds that having arrived at Norliv at the beginning of this month, there has been no time to analyse it.

Norliv will recruit an investment analyst in time whose task it will be, among other things, to consider the expected risk-return profile of the strategic stake and how that resonates with the rest of the portfolio, Wallberg says.

“In the first year my priorities will be to building up the association’s secretariat, working on a method for paying out the bonus to members, working up to making the first charitable donations administration, and arranging the election of representatives which should take place early next year,” he says.

Clear profile in Danish charity sector

He has clear aspirations for the future of Norliv.

“I hope it will achieve significant position in the Danish charity sector with a clear profile, and that we will be known as a serious partner when it comes to supporting projects for mental health,” he says.

He also aims for the association to become well known among its large membership, and appreciated not only for the financial returns it gives them, but also for its democratic and philanthropic elements, he says.

“I hope they want to take part and help influence the work we do,” says Wallberg.

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