A strong investment in the development of Finnish ownership
The School of Business was finally able to celebrate the endowed professorship in ownership in May, after the pandemic restrictions were lifted. At the event held at Aalto University School of Business in Otaniemi on May 2, 2022, the stages of the professorship project were summarized and the role of ownership examined from the perspective of different donors. In addition to major donors, the invitees included the members of the steering group of the professorship project.
Timo Korkeamäki, the dean of the School of Business, who acted as the evening's host, opened the event, which had a very positive and enthusiastic atmosphere.
’The professorship of ownership has been a wonderful project right from the start. The scope of the supporters and the diversity of their backgrounds ensure that the professorship is not just a mouthpiece for one type of ownership but aims to increase both the researched knowledge and teaching and the societal understanding of ownership. We are extremely proud that we got the professorship to the School of Business,’ said Korkeamäki in his opening speech.
‘The initiators of the professorship project and the people behind it have pulled the project through wonderfully. My warmest thanks to them, and to all donors!’
The professorship advances knowledge and understanding of all forms of ownership
The first speech of the evening was deservedly given by Philip Aminoff, chairman of the board of Helvar Merca and former chairman of Finnish Family Firms Association. Philip Aminoff has acted as an advocate of ownership for decades and, both through his own personality and through his various roles, has done very valuable work for ownership. In their speeches, Timo Korkeamäki and the father of the ownership professorship project, Tero Luoma, CEO of Ensto Invest, expressed their heartfelt thanks to Philip Aminoff for the work he has done for ownership.
In his own speech, Aminoff outlined the aspects that were most central to the initiation of the professorship project.
‘My reflections are, in a certain way, icons. They are separate from each other, but they are all - in one way or another - aspects of a large phenomenon that cannot be simply explained. This phenomenon is ownership. Through the professorship of ownership, our understanding of this phenomenon, which is completely central to sustainable development, will rise to a whole new level,’ said Philip Aminoff.
As the first icon, Aminoff brought up IMD's Global Business Family Center in Lausanne, which he had the pleasure of visiting in 1994. Another significant icon was the founding of the Finnish Family Firms Association in 1997, with Peter Fazer as its first chairman. The founding of the association helped networking, learning, and influencing. Influencing on the EU level started, in turn, with GEEF (Groupe Europeen des Entreprises Familiales – European Group of Owner Managed and Family Businesses) in 1998.
Moving from England back to Finland in 1998 made Aminoff think about how the total tax rate varies from country to country between different types of capital and different owners. The establishment of the Finnish Ownership Negotiation Committee drew attention to the multiplicity of ownership entities and to ownership’s principle of perpetuity. At the end of his speech, Aminoff talked about his observations about the owner's role in the decision-making process. ‘The owner dedicates himself, the owner feels responsible, the owner cares, the owner seeks the best of what he owns, the owner sees a duty of care," summed up Aminoff.
CEO Tero Luoma started his speech by recounting the beginnings of the professorship project.
‘During my business studies, there wasn’t much talk about ownership, but teaching started from the point of view that the company management runs the company, and the owners are a scattered group in the background. However, while working as an analyst, I noticed that there are good and bad companies, and that the role of the owner was a factor explaining the success in many of the companies.’
Since there was no commonsense book on ownership in Finland, Luoma obtained additional information and wrote a book called Osaava omistaja (Competent Owner in English). And since there was no professorship in the field in Finland, and apparently nowhere else in the world either, Luoma decided that this was what was needed. He put together a steering group for the professorship project representing different forms of ownership.
‘What was particularly great about the professorship project was that a common agenda was formed around the different forms of ownership, with the aim of advancing the understanding and knowledge of all types of ownership in Finland. We give the new professor full academic freedom, and we donors do not determine what and how to conduct research or how the professor should act. We are there to help and support, if necessary, but the professor gets a complete freedom to work,’ assures Luoma.
In his speech, Luoma also emphasized the societal impact of the professorship in ownership, and he regards the professorship as a strong investment in the development of Finnish ownership.
‘A broader understanding of ownership and a public discussion about ownership are necessary to understand the importance of ownership. I'm looking forward to what the new professorship will bring in these areas,’ says Luoma.
In his speech, Tero Luoma thanked all those who made the professorship project possible, including Lari Raitavuo, who gathered supporters for the project. ‘My first and most important thank you goes to Lari Raitavuo. Lari's enthusiasm, energy and ability to get things done is absolutely unique. Without Lari, we would not be here!’
Benefits of ownership for all
Samuli Knüpfer, the recently appointed professor of ownership, spoke about households as owners and investors in his speech. He stated that since 60% of households do not own stocks or mutual funds, they miss out on the benefits of ownership. According to Knüpfer, the content of Finnish ownership (or holdings) is also unevenly distributed.
‘Men, Swedish-speaking people, urban dwellers, older, more educated and wealthier people own more shares and equity funds than others, but less combined and fixed-income funds than others. In addition, the return-to-risk ratio of the investments of the wealthiest tenth of the population is better than that of the least wealthy tenth of the population," Knüpfer stated.
‘I would like to see a lot of development in all the factors that cause the benefits of ownership to be distributed unevenly. Thanks to unique Finnish data, it is possible to do high-quality research on ownership , and my goal is to produce and share researched information that has societal impact.’
Samuli Knüpfer is a top-class researcher with extensive domestic and international networks. He received his doctorate from the Helsinki School of Business in 2008 and has since worked at London Business School in England and BI Norwegian Business School in Norway, among others. Knüpfer is happy that it was Aalto University School of Business that got the professorship of ownership.
‘It was great to return to Finland and specifically to Aalto University with a unique project like this. The move back would probably not have happened had the professorship gone to another Finnish university.’
By owning you can make an impact
The CEO Sari Lounasmeri from Finnish Foundation for Share Promotion also spoke at the donor appreciation event. In her energetic speech, she talked about the beginnings of the foundation in the 1980s, among other things. The foundation is part of the steering group of the professorship project and was one of the first donors to donate. Lounasmeri said that she was pleased to notice that during the professorship project, the different types of owners have found each other.
’Ownership has become something that is of interest. In Finland it is easy to become an owner, there are many options. When we own together, we strive for results together. By owning, you can make an impact,’ said Lounasmeri.
After Lounasmeri's speech, the stage was taken by Petteri Karttunen, chairman of the board of the Saastamoinen Foundation, and Arto Mäenmaa, the CEO of the Jenny and Antti Wihuri foundation, who were interviewed by Dean Timo Korkeamäki. Petteri Karttunen and Arto Mäenmaa talked about why ownership is important for the organizations they represent and why they donated to the professorship. The factors that unite both are the background in family entrepreneurship, advancing the culture of ownership and the societal impact of ownership.
The Saastamoinen Foundation and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation were the first donors of the professorship. And also the last ones, as a valuable additional donation was received from both foundations towards the end of the professorship project, which enabled the establishing of the professorship. Many thanks to both foundations!
The official program of the event was concluded by Ilkka Niemelä, the president of Aalto University. He talked about the importance of endowed professorships for the university.
‘With the help of endowed professorships, the university is able to strengthen the existing areas in teaching and research, and to open completely new ones. A good example of this being the professorship of ownership.’
‘It is a pleasure and an honor that it was Aalto University that got the first professorship focused on research and education in the field. I really look forward to everything that will happen in the area of ownership with the professorship and Samuli. Heartfelt thanks to Tero, Lari and Auli Hänninen for your wonderful work for the professorship! Heartfelt thanks to every donor as well! Together we have created something unique!’
Photos from the event
The professorship in ownership has been established with donated funds.
The professorship, established with donated funds, promotes high-quality academic research and teaching as well as Finnish ownership expertise and the culture of ownership.
Aalto University has established a unique professorship in ownership.