In this interview series we would like for you to meet the people of NBCC’s Council Board who uphold and continuously work to maintain and develop the 115 year long history of trade between the UK and Norway.
Please meet Annett Åbø who is the President of the NBCC. Annett, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Yes, of course I can. My name is Annett Åbø and I have been the President of NBCC for 2 years now. My previous professional experience is from investment banking and I have worked both in Oslo and in London. In Oslo I worked for Nordea and I was partner in a brokerage firm called Fondspartner where I was a financial analyst. In London I worked for Commerzbank Asset Management and my most recent job in London was with Citigroup, where I was responsible for selling European Equities to Scandinavian Institutions including Norges Bank (the central bank of Norway). I am Norwegian but have lived in London for the last 20 years with my husband and two sons.
What was the educational path you chose before entering the professional world of finance?
I went to university in the United States and have a Bachelor degree specialising in finance from University of Massachusetts and an MBA from Boston University. Due to my interest in art, I took a Master in Art Business at Sotheby’s a few years ago.
I would also like to mention my other interest which is rhythmic gymnastics. When I was young I was on the Norwegian National team and I am now coaching rhythmic gymnastics for a club here in London.
As the President of the Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce, do you have any advice for others who work along the Norwegian-British axis?
One advice I would like to offer, is NOT to underestimate the importance of cultural awareness. There are much bigger cultural differences between the UK and Norway than most people initially notice. Personally, it took me several years to really understand the extent of this.
Examples of this would be for a Norwegian working towards the British to be aware of the importance of saying PLEASE and to not be too direct in their communication. For a British person working towards Norway it can be helpful to understand the shorter and more flexible working hours in Norway.
Brexit is still highly relevant for trade between the UK and Norway. How has the NBCC responded to Brexit and are there perhaps lessons here that can inspire others?
Brexit has of course been an important topic for NBCC. The NBCC’s mission is to be a bridge across the North Sea and to promote trade between the UK and Norway, hence regulations that impact this such as Brexit is at the heart of what we do.
What I think is the best one can do in such a situation is to prepare and to accept. We at the NBCC have done our best in cooperation with the Norwegian Embassy in London to keep our members informed about the implications of Brexit e.g. through our newsletter, social media and of course to be available on email.
I would encourage everyone involved in UK-Norwegian trade to find out what rules apply to their business and then do the necessary work to comply. It will most likely involve a bit more paper work and hassle in the beginning, but trade will undoubtably continue between Norway and the UK.
What are your thoughts on the relationship between the UK and Norway going forward?
Norway and the UK have a long history of close ties and cooperation and have had diplomatic relations since 1906 which is the same year that NBCC was created.
The UK is Norway’s largest trading partner and the total trade between the two countries was worth £26.3bn in 2019. Norway supplies 40% of UK’s energy needs and nearly 50% of UK’s exports to Norway are services.
Based on the historical good relationship and the fact that the current trade is important for both nations, I trust that both countries will have the same interest and motivation in continuing this good relationship.