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Civil liberties and freedom in Finland are up against investing lessons from wealthy Belgians


Kirsten Hastings




Score prediction: FINLAND 1 – BELGIUM 2


In advance of the Finland-Russia game, I wrote about sustainability in the Nordic region. With the backdrop of 24 countries from Austria to Wales participating in the Euros, we might wonder what these countries have in common and how they differ.

After Belgium-Finland, I will throw in yet another dimension. How do the Nordic countries score in terms people’s access to political rights and civil liberties?  

Freedom House rates in 210 countries and territories through its annual Freedom in the World report. This is about Individual freedoms—ranging from the right to vote to freedom of expression and equality before the law and how these can be affected by state or nonstate actors.

I will only touch the Nordic countries but if you are curious, do visit the Freedom House website at to find out how the world is making progress in these issues. Unsurprisingly, the Nordic countries score well in the report. Finland scores 100/100, Sweden 100/100, Norway 100/00, Denmark 97/100 and Iceland 94/100. Belgium, by the way, scores 96, also among the highest in Europe.

The investment perspective of this backdrop is, of course, in risk management. Countries with stable societies and orderly political systems, functioning governments, rule of law and civil liberties are less prone to mismanagement, disorder and mayhem. You need not go further than the global government bond markets to see how risks and instability affect pricing and ratings.

So, if you are looking for sustainable opportunities to upgrade your investment portfolio and improve its risk profile, look no further than assets and asset managers in the Nordics.




Score prediction: FINLAND 0 – BELGIUM 5


Let rich Belgian families invest for you!

The Belgian stock market is not among the most prominent in the world. However there is one sector in which it is really world class: family-owned holding companies.

These holding companies have been created by wealthy families in order to manage their fortune. In order to offer some family members the opporturnity to sell some shares from time to time a number of these holding companies are quoted on the stock market.

Well known Belgian Holding companies are Sofina (family Boël), Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (family Frère), Brederode (family Van der Mersch) and Ackermans-Van Haaren.

All these holding companies have had good returns over the last years and offer decent and stable dividends. Sofina for example has not lowered it’s dividend for over 50 years! So investing alongside the wealthy Belgian families offers a great opportunity.