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Scandinavia’s private bankers expecting only a slow recovery in their earnings

With less money to go around, less appetite for complex financial products and even wealthy individuals feeling the pinch, private banks have seen their income fall by a third this year,
according to one of the region’s leading bankers.

And, while Sweden’s ageing population means the longer term outlook for wealth management and private banking remains positive, next year is unlikely to see that many hiring opportunities coming up.

Incomes have gone down dramatically this year, estimates Erik Svorin, managing director for Scandinavia of HSBC Private Bank, with some private banking teams down as much as 30-40%.

“What is happening is a flight to quality, particularly to the bigger banks which can offer a greater range of products and more value-added products and services. Some smaller banks, particularly in the undeclared finance arena, will I think see the future in a very different way,” he says.

While there has been, and will always be, some hiring going on, it is selective and more about filling vacancies rather than expanding teams, he adds.

“Overall this year there has hardly been any demand for private bankers, although there have been some senior people hired,” agrees Johan Wingren, Michael Page’s local banking and financial services manager.

In May, for example, Swedbank poached Lars Friberg from SEB to head its private banking operation.

At more junior levels in particular, if anything the past year has seen a contraction in numbers within many teams because so many banks recruited so heavily in the good times, suggests Wingren.

“Nevertheless, banks do I think see potential in private banking going forward. Next year may still be too early to talk about expansion, but the demographics of the Nordic region do mean that we may see private banking and wealth management developing over time and a wider range of products being offered,” he adds.

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