• Sweden edition
 
Swedish bank lures credit-hungry UK clients

Swedish bank lures credit-hungry UK clients

Published: 02 Aug 2013 18:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Aug 2013 18:00 GMT+02:00

As Handelsbanken recently published its second-quarter profit increase of 7 percent, the bank continues to woo customers - not with aloof promises of Swedish efficiency, but by employing local staff at local branches to make local decisions.

"While our Swedish heritage has some positive associations, we do not choose to focus on this in our marketing, since our model is all about local banking," spokeswoman Cecilia Egeby told The Local. "We do not have call centres and business decisions are taken at branch level, so that our customers can benefit from swift responses."

Halifax branch manager Angela Dowd said that British banking had been centralized and automated to the point not only of anonymity, but to the point of losing potentially valuable customers.

"It is entirely ironic that it is just the simple things that are really important to customers, like calling your local manager or walking into your branch, that the other banks can't seem to provide," she told The Local, adding that old-school high street banking had become rarer in the past decade or so.

"It’s definitively a niche market in how Handelsbanken presents their business model," said Dowd, who has worked for the Swedish bankers for seven years. While she once upon a time would have to do an introductory preamble to explain what bank she worked for, Dowd said many new customers are now aware of the brand.

"Although they often at first pronounce it Handels Bank, rather than Handelsbanken," she said.

The bank's business model is also based on greater liberty for the branch staff, not only because they don't have to chase targets, but because they have been empowered to make decisions on the ground.

"We operate without sales targets or bonuses," central office spokeswoman Egeby explained. "And our branch staff tailors the bank's products and services to meet each individual customer's needs."

For manager Angela Dowd in Halifax, this means being able to take more into account than a credit rating churned out by a computer programme, allowing her a certain degree of freedom in whom she says yes to. And if the answer is, after all, a no, it's a no explained to the customer in person and politely.

"Other banks miss the nuances around the edges that contribute to a lending decision," said Dowd, who takes a more rounded approach to her customers. "Some of that is market perception, knowledge of that particular customer or business, and what you hear on the ground… whom you should do business with, and whom you're best to avoid."

While the grapevine or gossip down the pub may to some seem like an unreliable source of information in making such important decisions as extending a person's credit line, the model appears to be both reliable and profitable.

"Our strong credit ratings confirm our consistently prudent approach, and we were recently reconfirmed as Europe's strongest bank by financial information provider Bloomberg," Egeby noted.

And it's not just Bloomberg sounding the gong of success, Handelsbanken even got a widely-publicized nod of support from none other than Sir Mervyn King, then governor of the Bank of England. The Times reported in April that King had advised one particular despondent banking customer to shun all the home-grown alternatives and instead, in the midst of financial crisis gloom, head on over to Handelsbanken, which hadn't frozen all lending.

"In recent years, our model has also attracted public support from a range of influential figures in Great Britain, which has certainly added to our profile at a national level," Egeby added, without, very Swedishly of her, dropping any names.

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Politics
Sweden slammed for racism report omissions

Sweden slammed for racism report omissions

The Swedish government has been criticized by a slew of organisations for omitting a series of notorious cases of discrimination and a general lack of self-criticism in its report to the UN Human Rights Council. READ  

Sport
Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden's top scorer in history. PHOTO: TT/Maja Suslin

Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is recovering well from the nagging heel problem that has stopped him playing for Sweden during its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. READ  

International
Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir
A shot from the video on YouTube.

Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir

Two sisters from Södertälje near Stockholm are celebrating getting more than 1.3 million hits on YouTube, with a video calling for peace in war-torn Syria. READ  

Pirate Bay
Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison
A 2013 image of Svartholm Warg. Photo: TT

Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison

Swedish "hactivist" Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for hacking crimes. READ  

Royal family
Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback
Princess Madeleine at a previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback

Sweden's Princess Madeleine is scheduled to appear at the Nobel Festival in Stockholm in December, after taking time out from her royal duties to focus on looking after her daughter. READ  

Politics
'We knew that Israel would be critical'
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (left), with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

'We knew that Israel would be critical'

Sweden's Foreign Minister has told The Local she respects Israel's decision to recall its ambassador after Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, and laughed off comments about IKEA furniture made by her Israeli counterpart. READ  

Analysis
'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'
Doctors say we should make the most of the autumn sunshine. Photo: Shutterstock

'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'

Spending time outdoors this autumn will help you survive a cold, dark Swedish winter. Baba Pendse, Head of Psychiatry at Lund University shares his top tips for battling the seasonal blues with The Local. READ  

Sports
Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid
Skiers hit the slopes in Åre, western Sweden. Photo: TT

Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid

Norwegian sports officials have said they want to co-host the winter Olympics with Sweden in 2026. But there has so far been no official response from Sweden. READ  

National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

31 October

Editor’s Blog, October 31st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Welcome to our latest 60-second round-up of the week’s news. First, Sweden made headlines around the..." READ »

 

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

935
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN