The eurozone crisis may still be a long way from being resolved, despite last week’s meeting of G20 finance ministers in Paris, but for Nordic banks it is becoming clear that the woes of some of their European rivals potentially leave them in a strong position.
Nordic banks appear not only to be in relatively rude health compared to many of their counterparts across the Eurozone but, whether by luck or design, have little exposure to the southern European nations where the sovereign debt crisis is predominantly centred.
“The main Nordic banks are in general very, very limited in their exposure to the sovereign debt crisis. The main exception is Danske Bank, which has operations in Ireland. But in terms of Greece or Italy, there is very little exposure,” points out Andreas Hakansson, analyst with Exane BNP Paribas in Stockholm.
“The fact the Nordics banks are trading at quite big premiums at the moment to other European banks does, I think, show how they are being differentiated,” he adds.
Whether this will feed through into future hiring activity is another question, of course.
Nordic banks will not be able to keep themselves completely immune from any collapse or default against the euro, and as a result budgets and hiring appetite are likely to remain constrained.
“There is going to continue to have to be a focus on costs if the banks are going to get any decent profitability going forward,” points out Hakansson.
And the uncertainty over the eurozone does appear to be muting hiring activity on the ground, at least in the short term.
Some recruiters, for example, are pointing out that a lot of hiring at the moment is “in-fill” – in other words simply filling vacancies that have arisen – rather than adding to or expanding teams.
“There is some nervousness,” agrees one.