Nordic banks look to pull in regulatory experts

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There is going to be greater demand for people with high-level economic or legal expertise to help banks navigate the tougher regulatory climate in Europe in the years to come, the head of Nordea's new unit to provide guidance on regulatory issues has predicted.

Leena Mörttinen, currently head of savings Finland at Nordea, will take up her role as head of the bank's newly created European Affairs unit in September.

This will be responsible for analysing the consequences for the bank of any new regulatory recommendations in the nine countries where Nordea operates as well as co-ordinating with government and financial authorities.

While the bank is thought to be the only Nordic bank so far to be going down the route of creating a stand-alone unit, other Scandinavian banks are also recognising the need for new structures to be put in place.

Last month, for example, Swedbank created a new asset and liability management committee to look at issues related to balance sheets, liquidity and risk as well as a compliance and risk control committee to "streamline and increase consistency" in this area.

In pure recruitment terms, Mörttinen's unit will, initially at least, be small. "I see it as probably just being me and my assistant, though in time we may look to take on one or two people, and there may be a need for people to work in various parts of the business," she points out.

But, she argues, banks should be thinking about how to be accessing this sort of expertise, whether through creating stand-alone units or by hiring regulatory experts, often from a high-level legal or economics background, to work across and provide support to different businesses.

"There absolutely should be demand for people with regulatory knowledge, people who have an understanding of the European regulatory climate, supervisory infrastructure and systemic risk," Mörttinen says.

"But they will also have to have a good understanding of economic structures and the role of the banks in creating value for their customers," she adds.

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