‘Need for change in structure’
Madeleine Bjørnestad Røed welcomes more female investors. She believes that many of today’s leaders, who are often men, may hamper women’s career opportunities by adhering to established structures. Røed is NHH Alumni of the Year in 2023.
‘It’s so wonderful to get recognition for our daily hard work to create more female investors – even though our work has only just begun and we have a long way to go,’ says Madeleine Bjørnestad Røed.
She is the co-founder and CEO of Stack by Me, an investment app that is designed to appeal to women and reach the majority of the Norwegian population who do not invest.
2 November Røed received the award at this year’s Alumni Conference. It is an honour awarded to NHH students who inspire alumni, as well as current and prospective NHH students.
‘It didn’t take long to get through the rough patch, when everyone thinks you’re crazy and irresponsible, to suddenly becoming a bit of a role model,’ she says smiling.
She explains that a lot of questions were asked when she went from having a successful career in Pareto to having a less certain future as an entrepreneur.
- Read more about her position at Pareto below
‘Flexibility is essential to success’
Claudia Goldin was recently awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics (in Norwegian). Her research shows that a big reason women lose the most from having children is that they are looking for more flexibility than men. This is particularly true in industries where being a shareholder rewards significantly higher pay.
‘I think Goldin is spot on. This is exactly what we have to get a handle on! If women are instead encouraged to become shareholders, we can change the structures that don’t provide much flexibility. Who says we have to work in an office five days a week so that clients can reach us?
Røed believes that many of today’s leaders, who are often men, may hamper women’s career opportunities by adhering to established structures that offer little flexibility:
‘I believe that if there had been more female leaders in Norway, things would have been different. I think they, in a greater degree, would have given fellow female employees the flexibility they need to succeed in demanding jobs – such as more possibilities to work from home – while taking care of their busy family lives.’
Excerpts from the jury’s grounds for the NHH Alumni of the Year:
As founder of the start-up company Stack by Me, Madeleine is an inspiration, as is her focus on closing the gender capital gap: women are underrepresented in all areas of finance. She has a down-to-earth and inclusive attitude and believes everyone should feel comfortable investing in shares and funds. She has many years’ experience in finance, including as an Equity Partner in Pareto Securities and subsequently having responsibility for Pareto Asset Management’s fund clients in the UK. Madeleine has also acted as entrepreneur in Pareto, starting the Paris office, the PE team and the UK initiative.
Stack by Me operates with full flexibility, where everyone has a home office. She is aware of the study that shows that home offices restrain workers’ pay and careers, but she nonetheless believes that the new generation of workers will want home offices and hybrid jobs.
‘It works so well for us that we see no reason to change it!’
Røed received top grades at the NHH Norwegian School of Economics. She took the CEMS programme, specialising in finance. After graduating, she had a successful career at Pareto. Røed started the Paris office and later became responsible for Pareto Asset Management’s fund clients in the UK.
‘So why did you leave?’
‘I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My biggest role model is my grandmother, who started importing Japanese cosmetics 50 years ago. It remained a highly successful family business until she sold it ten years ago. After eight years in Pareto, the time was ripe to start my own business.’
‘We failed to deliver’
Stack by Me was launched in 2020. The company, which has five employees, raised NOK 10 million in an oversubscribed share issue last year. They are now out with a new issue. It was fully subscribed at the minimum amount in just eight hours – and has already attracted NOK 2 million in funding from Innovation Norway.
How the business idea emerged:
‘I got the idea from the frustration that we (when working in Pareto, editor's note) couldn’t manage to recruit any female managers for the funds I was selling in the UK. The big clients required diversity and we failed to deliver. It had an impact on revenue, and that’s what got me thinking about it,’ says Røed, and quickly adds:
‘At the same time, I discovered that my female friends didn’t invest very much, even though they had gone to NHH and had decent jobs and sound finances. It made me realise that this was as an untapped market in a lucrative industry. The more I learn, the more passionate I become. This is money that is left on the table – completely unnecessarily.’
She also has Christine T. Kvaalen on her team, co-founder of Stack and now marketing director, who was once brand manager for the Norwegian market for Chanel and Gucci.
‘Parents should be taught about gender differences’
The committed entrepreneur believes that personal finances and investments should, as early as possible, be given more prominence on the school curriculum.
‘We need to teach girls and boys about shares, ownership and how to become investors and entrepreneurs. Schools and parents should be taught about gender differences in the same way as they get umpteen brochures about food, health and childcare.’
‘Finally, do you have any final advice you’d like to share?’
‘Go home and check on your investments! If you don’t you have any investments, then it’s time to get started!’