Obviously 2008 was a terrible year for financial services, but it seems that Nordic banks (Iceland excluded) have fared relatively well and may even provide some job opportunities in 2009.
The economic crisis is clearly a global phenomenon, but industry observers say Nordic banks largely stayed clear of the riskier loans which have left the sector in tatters elsewhere.
There’s also the precedent set by the Swedish banking crisis of the early-1990s.
The nation returned the assets of failed banks and corporations to more productive uses via asset sales, and avoided the economic carnage that could have followed a complete systemic meltdown in the financial sector.
Handelsbanken, one of the largest players in the Nordic region, has posted better than expected profits of SEK5.22bn for the full year.
Although its Nordic rivals like Nordea, SEB and Swedbank actually saw profits fall, the outlook remains positive as the major investors in all three banks were willing to back recent rights issues.
One headhunter tells us that banks are continuing to hire, but in a more targeted fashion with banking, insurance and general financial analyst roles continuing to be in demand because of the volatility of the sector. The same goes for gas and commodity analysts.
The big four Nordic banks are also viewing the current situation as an opportunity to take back some market share lost to international players over the past few years, which is likely to present some job opportunities.