Navigating timelines

Anita Karppi talks to Shanny Basar about her new role at Plia Systems, helping the industry meet ESG regulation deadlines and helping others.

In November 2021 Anita Karppi took on the newly created position of chief revenue officer and head of ESG at Plia Systems when the Know Your Broker platform for the buy-side launched an environmental, social and governance (ESG) division. The part-time role is in addition to another part-time position on the executive team at Plato Partnership, the not-for-profit group of asset managers and broker dealers aiming to improve the European equities marketplace.

However, Karppi is used to managing her time efficiently as she launched a business in 2009 when she was pregnant and is still leading The Buy-Side Trading Community, which delivers business intelligence and interconnects the asset management trading community globally. Prior to launching her consultancy Karppi had 22 years of experience in finance across Goldman Sachs Asset Management, FlexTrade, and Reuters.

Karppi said,“The financial markets are in a similar situation as prior to the implementation of MiFID and MiFID II when firms needed to understand the upcoming obligations, when they were due and the detailed specifications. Plia delivers expertise in the market through affordable technology, building economies of scale and being educational thought leaders.”

Plia was developed in 2012 to manage the due diligence process and streamline the secure transfer of information between asset managers and their counterparties for risk management and best execution purposes. At the end of 2021 buy-side firms with over £13.5 trillion in assets under management were using Plia’s due diligence functionality.

The original Plia Know Your Broker platform has been enhanced to provide a collaboration framework for the buy-side, sell-side, exchanges and vendors so they can find out what is coming down the pipe from an ESG perspective with timeframes and upcoming standards, such as the European Union’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) which introduces new reporting requirements this year. The PliaESG platform is standards agnostic and provides a questionnaire with a traffic light system – red, amber and green – so the buy side can follow the rate of progress.

“The technology is intuitive, tracking and logging the progress achieved by everyone across the firm,” added Karppi.

An asset manager can personalise their own set of questions or use the standard questionnaire, such as for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Bill Stephenson, CEO of Plia and former Global Head of Trading at Franklin Templeton, and Karppi are keen to coach each participant through the journey and educate the wider ecosystem as they believe it is important that people understand what they should be doing from an ESG perspective, promote sustainable best practices and the fiduciary responsibility to always act in the investor’s best interests.

PliaESG will be donating a percentage of revenues to “Plia Impact”, a non-profit corporation that supports organisations and communities that positively impact and improve environmental and social causes,” said Karppi. “Supporting others’ efforts in the overall ESG ecosystem will align with our clients’ goals.Working with ESG, we feel extremely fortunate to be in a position of helping others.”

In a similar spirit of helping others, Karppi supported her local hospital, Ashford & St Peters Hospital Trust, during the pandemic by raising £15,000 from the local community. She used the funds to source and deliver PPE, visors, shoe coverings, digital thermometers, hand creams, refreshments and goodie bags to frontline workers.

“Every week there was a new challenge and I made sure to hand deliver everything that I had bought with the public’s money to the hospital myself,” she added.

Plato Partnership

In 2021 Plia announced an investment from the Plato Partnership to launch a Know Your Customer/Anti-Money Laundering initiative, which will be available this year. PliaKYC will offer an end-to-end fully encrypted repository for document and information sharing; and allow for full integration with existing processes via an API.

Karppi joined Plato Partnership in December 2020 and said that, as a non-profit organisation, it has a very similar ethos to her own consulting company and is committed to sharing best practice. In addition, Plato produces academic research through its MI3 division which she said has been really successful in bridging the gap between academia and market practitioners.

“It is quite unique and attracts world renowned academics to write independent reports to build a better financial ecosystem,” added Karppi. “Plato should be commended for all of their hard work and dedication to the industry to date.”

Diversity

Prior to taking on her new role at Plia, Karppi had been championing women through the Buy-Side Trading Community by lobbying stock exchanges to shorten their trading hours to encourage diversity and improve mental health, as well as supporting fund management with trading-related governance challenges.

Karppi believes that championing the voice of the trading community continues to be as important now as it was when she started. Last year the Buy-Side Trading Community led a #Buysidementalhealth campaign and Karppi was surprised by the overwhelming response as it became very clear that this was an important topic to cover within the community as many people suffered with mental health challenges during the lockdown.

“Sometimes just being able to voice what others are thinking about, but afraid to say, makes a huge difference,” she said.

The Buyside Trading Community is evolving in 2022 and Karppi would like to continue doing more to support gender diversity, social diversity and mental health.

“As a woman myself, I feel that my career is just important to me,” Karppi added. “I understand womens’ challenges trying to juggle a career while being a mother, wife and daughter but you always find a way. My Scandinavian husband is very supportive of my career.”

She is optimistic that the world is changing, with more opportunities not just for women but possibly also for people with disabilities or impairments as commuting five days a week to work may no longer be necessary. She highlighted that she now often sees roles advertised now as ‘remote’ or ‘hybrid’ which is a huge change compared to job roles before the pandemic.

Karppi would love to see more women in front office roles and, in particular, in trading.

“More women need to throw their hat into the ring for jobs – even if they think they only meet five out of the ten criteria,” she advised. “Financial markets firms should also educate young women at an early age about possible careers in the financial markets.”

©Markets Media Europe 2022

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