Swedish banks pass EU stress test

Ten banks in Sweden, Norway and Finland passed European Union stress tests, their financial regulators announced on Friday.

Swedish banks pass EU stress test

The banks taking part in the test were Sweden’s Nordea, Handelsbanken, SEB and Swedbank; Denmark’s Danske Bank, Jyske Bank, Nykredit and Sydbank; Finland’s OP-Pohjola and Norway’s DNB NOR.

All the banks passed their tests with comfortable Tier One capital margins, the regulators said in separate statements.

The Swedish banks passed the test with a “good margin”, between 8.6 percent and 10.5 percent, well above the 5.0 percent Tier One capital requirement laid down by the European Banking Authority, the organisers of the test.

The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen – FI) estimated that the Swedish banks have sufficient capital to survive in the event of a financial crisis.

Solvency and high earnings, combined with a low exposure to regions in economic crisis, means that this year’s stress test will not lead to any dramatic changes for Nordea.

“We’re satisfied to have performed so well, it’s evidence that we are well-prepared for crises. It’s an acknowledgment of the fact that we are a low-risk bank, and very robust,” said Rodney Alfvén, investor relations manager at Nordea, to news agency TT.

Alfvén concludes that European Banking Authority have tightened rules for the stress test, which was criticised for being too easy last year.

“The test was tougher than last year’s, they had higher demands this year,” he said.

The Nordic bank system’s positive results in the stress test is great news, said Anders Kvist, financial manager at SEB.

“And in our individual case, it’s nice to see that we have a better capital ratio than any other Swedish bank.

High earnings and low risk are Anders Kvist’s recipe for success.

“We have a portfolio that doesn’t contain too many risk factors. This means that even when this test supposes a very negative macro-economic development, leading to credit loss, losses are not so great in SEB’s and the other Swedish banks’ credit portfolios,” he explained.

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Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.