Thursday, 13 December 2012

Handelsbanken: "One of the world's top ten strongest banks"/Bloomberg. Truro branch. A blueprint for better banking by Niels Kroner. List of UK and international branches

Handelsbanken head office in Stockholm

Handelsbanken, the largest bank in Sweden, was founded in 1871. It now has over 750 branches in 22 countries.
In May 2012 Handelsbanken was named for the second year running as one of the top ten strongest banks in the world by news agency Bloomberg.

A Blueprint for Better Banking, based on the Handelsbanken system, was written by Niels Kroner, a former consultant of McKinsey, and published in 2009.

Admiring articles on Handelsbanken  can be found in The Guardian, the BBC, The Telegraph, this is money, to name but a few. It does not need to advertise but relies on word of mouth. Jill Treanor on 14 September 2012 in The Guardian headlines call it "The publicity-shy bank with a growing empire. With a government encouraging so-called challenger bankers to take on the 'big four' and get lending to small business, Handelsbanken has reason to be ambitious."

The following is taken from the bank’s UK website:

“Handelsbanken's strengths

  • For the past 40 years Handelsbanken has had higher profitability than the average for its competitors.
  • In Sweden, Handelsbanken has had the highest level of customer satisfaction since surveys started in 1989. Here in Great Britain, Handelsbanken was also ranked top for customer satisfaction and loyalty in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
  • Handelsbanken has been the most cost effective universal bank in Europe for many years.
  • For a long time, Handelsbanken has had a lower loan loss ratio than its competitors.

 Handelsbanken's corporate philosophy

  • A strongly decentralised organisation - the branch is the Bank
  • The customer in focus - not individual products
  • Profitability is always given higher priority than volumes
  • A long-term perspective
  • Oktogonen - the Bank's profit-sharing system”

The UK with 128 branches is the second largest in the Handelsbanken group  and has plans for further expansion here. It is backed by the Financial Services Authority; deposits up to 100,000 euros (about £86,000) are secured under the Swedish Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

UK CEO Anders Bouvin states the clear ethos behind the bank’s success:

“Handelsanken couldn't be more different to a UK high street bank. When do you meet a decision-maker at a high street branch? …We believe that if you put trust in people, people will respond in a positive way and take responsibility and deliver results that they would not have achieved in a command and control environment."

Each bank manager, who is very often local to the area, makes his/her own credit decisions, supported by regional offices in the North, Central, South and South West. 

Current accounts, savings, loan and mortgage rates are set according to each customer. Handelsbanken has no call centres: customers deal directly with their own branch manager and can bank online. 
Staff are paid a competitive salary, rather than bonuses, and work on an incentive system, called the Oktogonen  which is paid on retirement at the age of 60. This has unfortunately come to a stop in this country owing to changed tax arrangements, but talks are ongoing.
Handelsbanken 4 Green Street Truro TR1 2LH 
01872 278725.
Denise Major
Truro Manager

Handelsbanken opened without fanfare in October 2011 in Truro, the capital of Cornwall, where it is based in part of the old building which was originally Bishop Phillpott’s Palace. The bank has frosted windows with elegant lettering. Over the years the building has been a high-end fashion shop, a kitchen shop and recently a cup-cake shop, but one finally feels this bank is here to stay. It is in a very good position, just off the Piazza, next to the bus station, and opposite the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Handelsbanken subsidiaries and branches

Sweden (461 branches)
United Kingdom (140 branches)
Denmark (54 branches)
Finland (44 branches)
Norway (34 branches)
Netherlands (15 branches)
Germany (7 branches)
Spain (2 branches)
Estonia (1 branch)
Latvia (1 branch)
Lithuania (1 branch)
China, People's Republic of
China, Republic of (Taiwan)
Hong Kong
Singapore (1 branch)
USA (1 branch)