Nordic banks set to add to private banking teams

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There are signs that Nordic banks are making their first tentative moves back into hiring within the private banking and wealth management arena, driven mainly by the prospect of many of the country's wealthy and elderly business owners' retirement.

In May, Swedbank moved to poach veteran banker Lars Friberg as its head of private banking from rival SEB, where he had been Luxembourg managing director since 2004.

Though Friberg will not get his feet under the desk until the summer, Swedbank has described private banking as now being a "prioritised" area.

Friberg, a former head of trading and capital markets, foreign exchange and emerging markets trading at SEB, has also echoed new boss Michael Wolf, who took over as chief executive in March, as saying there will now be much more of a focus on "traditional" banking activities.

There are a large number of family-run businesses with elderly owners and no natural heirs in Sweden who, when they sell up, are likely to need private banking services, says Erik Svorin, managing director for Scandinavia of HSBC Private Bank.

"This makes Scandinavia potentially an attractive place for private banking," he points out.

But when it comes actually to landing jobs, it is still for now only the best and most experienced people who are in demand, he cautions.

"It is very easy to hire people now, there is a huge surplus. So to get a position you will need to be able to bring a good book with you and, when it comes to salaries and bonuses, it is definitely an employer's market. Most people are just happy to be in a job," he adds.

According to Johan Wingren, Michael Page's local banking and financial services manager, Swedbank has historically not had as much of a private banking presence as SEB, so the appointment of Friberg could be a sign it is trying to reposition itself.

Away from the big players, some smaller financial services firms, such as family office Valbay and Erik Penser, are also recruiting wealth managers.

"We are working on a number of private banking assignments, particularly for smaller firms, which is where the trend seems to be in the market right now," he points out.

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