New Chair of Finance Finland’s Board Sara Mella: Finland must be an active member in a strong and unified EU

Nordea’s Sara Mella has become the first female Chair of Finance Finland’s Board. She spoke at Finance Finland’s seminar for journalist on 5 May 2023.
  • Sara Mella, Head of Personal Banking in the Nordic region at Nordea, started as the Executive Chair of Finance Finland’s Board of Directors in January.
  • Mella highlights the importance of Finland’s EU membership and encourages Finland to be an active member in the international community.
  • Finland must ensure that its national specificities are taken into account in EU regulation.
  • Vice Chairs of the Board are LocalTapiola Group CEO Juha Koponen and President and Group CEO of OP Financial Group Timo Ritakallio.

Finance Finland’s Board of Directors is elected by the general meeting. The Board has authority over all of Finance Finland’s strategic lobbying projects and key questions that concern the entire sector, as well as over its strategy, organisation, action plan, budget and other matters specified in the Rules.

Sara Mella, Head of Personal Banking in the Nordic region at Nordea, started as the Executive Chair of Finance Finland’s Board of Directors in January and is the first woman to take up the position. The Chair’s term of office is two years. At the start of Mella’s term, the Board’s focus is heavily on the European elections that will take place in early June. The outcome of the elections will define Finland’s EU policy for the next five years.

“Finland must take a more active role in EU tables. The EU must ensure its own competitiveness when drafting regulation, and Finland must ensure that Finnish specificities are taken into account in EU regulation”, Mella says.

“Additional national regulation must be avoided when implementing EU regulation. National regulation should be subjected to a comprehensive assessment that serves as the basis for future development of the regulation. EU regulation must not be reviewed until there is enough experience of how existing regulation functions”, Mella advises.

The next European Parliament will be challenged by the uncertain economic outlook, ongoing environmental crisis and strained geopolitical situation: the end of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine is not in sight, and tensions are also rising with the war in the Middle East and the upcoming US presidential election.

“The storms in global politics underscore the importance of Finland’s EU membership. The financial sector also plays a key role in maintaining functional and secure infrastructures in society.”

The financial sector’s growth strategy outlined in the government programme highlights the sector’s significance

Mella commends the Finnish Government for including a growth strategy for the financial sector in its government programme. “For the Finnish financial sector, this is an excellent initiative. Our current government clearly understands that the financial sector has a key role in enabling and financing growth”, emphasises Mella.

Geopolitical challenges are not the only thing threatening the EU ‒ and the entire world ‒ as the impending environmental crisis is showing little sign of improvement. The Finnish financial sector is committed to the EU’s sustainable development goals, but misdirected regulatory burden jeopardises their achievement.

“In addition to the mitigation of climate change, important priorities include the prevention of biodiversity loss and the development of social responsibility. The Finnish financial sector and its member organisations have already taken action against biodiversity loss by drawing up the financial sector’s own nature commitment and agreeing on the indicators that will measure the sector’s actions in this area”, Mella explains.

Such a massive change needs to involve the entire value chain of the economy. When non-financial sector businesses learn to better identify and report their environmental impacts, financial sector companies will also be able to give up investments that carry high nature-related risks and direct their financial flows to nature-positive business instead.

Requests for interviews with Sara Mella can be made via Nordea’s communications department: +358 9 4245 1006.