October 3, 2013
As part of the company’s expansion plans, GES has recently established partnership with Simon Romijn in Australia and New Zealand. Through this new relationship, GES is now closer to existing clients and is also able to better cater for the increasing demand for engagement services in the region.
Meet Simon Romijn, who from August 2013 has become a representative of GES in Australian and New Zealand markets.
1. Please tell us about your new role for GES.
I have been appointed to market GES services to Australian and New Zealand institutional investors. I am located in Sydney.
2. What brought you into this partnership?
I have a long career in banking, investment and investment consulting. Most recently I represented the Swiss based company Sustainable Asset Management (SAM) in Australia. Over the years I had some success with the commercialization of sustainability indexes in Australia and developed a great deal of passion for the responsible investment sector. By chance Eric Gelfgren who heads marketing and client services at GES, and had originally recruited me to represent SAM, contacted me late last year to discuss the possibility of representing GES. I was delighted at the prospect of representing another quality player in the sector.
3. Who or what has inspired you most in your career?
I have always been inspired to make a difference in what I do. Whether it’s about delivering the best possible advice to help a client achieve their objectives, generating the best possible returns or promoting RI philosophies, products or services.
4. How is the RI market different in Australia/New Zealand compared to Europe? What are the main investor concerns and what is your approach in addressing them?
The RI sector is very different in Australia/New Zealand compared to Europe. In fact Australia and New Zealand are very different markets themselves. There is little pressure from individuals and the media in Australia on institutional investors compared Europe to show commitment to responsible investment principles and products. Most of the impetus has come from the union movement and centre-left political parties. A large number of industry and government institutional investors have therefore signed up to the PRI but only a handful have shown any real commitment beyond encouraging external investment managers to give more attention to ESG investment criteria. This is starting to change and I am therefore optimistic that a number of institutional investors will consider appointing GES to represent them in engagement activities in respect to their international share portfolios. It is difficult to generalize about investors’ main concerns. Rather each major institutional investor has his own context to consider in respect to RI. It is therefore necessary to understand each opportunity as unique and address concerns and issues accordingly. In many cases it is also necessary to work patiently to educate and inform.
5. How do you plan to get started? What are the priorities for the year ahead?
The first stage of the plan is to target the most fitting candidates for GES services and then look more broadly at PRI signatories in Australia and New Zealand. The priorities are quite simple; sign up some more clients.
6. Which RI conferences/events will you be attending in the near future?
I am a director of the Responsible Investment Association in Australia and a regular attendee of the Association’s events, including its conference later in the year.
Eric Gelfgren, Director Business Development at GES, commented: ‘For GES the partnership with Simon means that we have a dedicated person locally to service our existing and future clients but also that we gain access to market insights in ways of improving our services globally. We are very pleased to have Simon on board.’