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The Nordic region’s safe haven status is prompting cautious expansion

While prospects for investment bankers in the Nordic region may not be as secure as they once were, the retail, private and commercial banking arms of local institutions are benefitting from the region’s new reputation as a safe haven from the troubles engulfing the Eurozone.

It is, perhaps, ironic that the divisions where Nordic banks have been cutting staff most heavily recently are now being tipped for growth, but investor are increasingly seeking to place their money in places like Sweden and Norway in a bid to escape the euro’s woes.

At DNB, Norway’s largest bank, this is already resulting in some recruitment. It’s set up a specialist division to deal with the number of enquiries from overseas, suggests AFP.

"Over the past year we've seen growing interest from foreign clients not just in private banking but also from regular retail and corporate banking customers," said Ingrid Tjoenneland, DNB's head of private banking, which targets high net worth individuals.

Nordea is also benefiting. As Torsten Ostensen, its head of Norwegian private banking told the Wall Street Journal: “It's a totally new situation for us. We have received so many requests [to open accounts] that we have had to introduce completely new routines."

This is also benefiting the fund management industry, as European savers flock to the fixed income products offered by Nordic institutions. Nordea says that its Swedish fixed income funds have swelled to €515m (more than double a year earlier) and from €424m to €1.54bn in its Norwegian funds.

"We're seeing large inflows into (Norwegian and Swedish) fixed income funds," Claes Maahlen, head of trading strategy at investment bank Handelsbanken Capital Markets told AFP.

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AUTHORPaul Clarke

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