Auður Capital was a financial service company, founded in 2007 by two Icelandic businesswomen, with the aim of incorporating feminine values into finance. Halla Tómasdóttir was Auður's executive chairman and Kristín Pétursdóttir was the company CEO.
The company offered wealth management, private equity advice and corporate advice. It attempted to correct what it perceived as a historic lack of balance and diversity in the financial sector. The founders blamed the 2007 financial downturn on high risk behavior, short term orientation and a narrow definition of results which had driven the financial sector for the past years.
Auður succeeded in preserving the funds of its clients when the Icelandic banks collapsed in October 2008.
In December 2008 Auður announced the launching of BJÖRK, a private equity fund, established by Auður Capital and the renowned musician Björk Guðmundsdóttir, who is an active supporter of entrepreneurship, creative thinking and increased diversity in the Icelandic economy. The aim of the BJÖRK venture fund was to invest in early-stage corporations, with high growth potential capitalizing on Iceland's human and/or natural resources, as well as emphasizing sustainability and a triple bottom line.
Auður received significant international attention. The Auður story has been featured by the BBC, New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The Financial Times, among others. Halla Tomasdóttir spoke at the 2010 TED Women's Conference on her financial philosophy.
Financing with Feminine Values
According to Halla Tomasdóttir, Auður Capital's former Executive Chairperson, the company's primary goal was to inject feminine values into Iceland's financial sector. According to Halla's TED Talk in 2010, she and CEO Kristín Pétursdóttir sought to accomplish this by adhering to four principles: risk awareness, straight talk, emotional capital, and profit with principles. Halla believes that investors and clients should be fully informed of the risks involved in investments before engaging in them. Auður Capital adhered to a principle of straight talk: clients should have access to both positive and negative aspects and developments in their investments and these should be presented in a way that directly reflects this. Halla and Kristín also believe in emotional capital, asserting that "emotional due diligence is just as valuable as financial due diligence". Lastly, Auður Capital believed in profits with principles. They called for an expansion of the definition of profit, asserting that financial gain is not the only type of profit to be had.
Halla asserted that the 2007 financial crisis in Europe and the United States could at least partially be attributed to major financial firms largely ignoring these principles: clients were not fully informed of investment risks, negative developments were not presented to clients in a transparent and accurate way, and emotional capital and ethical principles were devalued in the financial sector. Halla contended that financial sectors globally must have a greater diversity in those that make decisions; for Auður Capital, this meant having more women take part in decision making processes in the financial sector. Halla argued that including more women in the financial sector and in decision-making processes will lead to better decisions, which will help deter other potential financial crises. She argued that this is not because women are better than men, but because they are different, and can lend a different perspective, thus leading to better-informed responses and solutions.
Merger in 2014
Auður Capital started its operations in 2007 and merged with the financial services firm Virðing in January 2014. The merged company operates under the name Virðing.
Virðing owns the Auður Capital brand and operates several private equity funds using the "Auður" name.
- "BBC News - The women who want to save banking". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "What If Women Ran Wall Street?". NYMag.com. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Ruth Sunderland. "After the crash, Iceland's women lead the rescue". the Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Financial Times, May 27, 2009
- http://www.ted.com/talks/halla_tomasdottir.html TED, November 18, 2013
- http://www.samkeppni.is/media/akvardanir-2013/akvordun_3613_Samruni_Virdingar_og_Audar_Capital.pdf ICA, December 20, 2013
- http://www.fme.is/utgefid-efni/frettir-og-tilkynningar/frettir/nr/2011 FSA, January 22, 2014.