“Handelsbanken is one of Sweden’s leading banks with over 700 branches in 22 countries and more than 10,000 employees. Acclaimed as one of the top ten strongest banks in the world by news agency Bloomberg, the bank specialise in providing bespoke banking services to customers wanting a long-term relationship with their bank.”
Naomi Willoughby-Foster, a Commercial Property Solicitor at Linder Myers, Manchester, finds out more with Handelsbanken’s Anthony Flynn, Corporate Manager from the Manchester Trinity Way Branch, Manchester, who give us an exclusive insight into his experiences:
Naomi: How long have you been working in banking?
Anthony: I’ve been working with businesses in Manchester for over 12 years.
Naomi: What are the most fundamental changes that you have seen in banking over that time?
Anthony: Although it was already a feature of banking when I joined in 1998, centralisation, both in terms of customer service provision and credit decision-making has developed at an unstoppable pace.
Moving the decision-making process away from the client has inevitably damaged the bank-customer relationship whilst the incentivisation of this process (through aggressive targets and bonus schemes) has moved the focus away from proper risk-analysis. We’ve seen the results of this in the last few years.
Outside Handelsbanken, it’s rarely possible to phone you account manager, get through to them, and get a lending decision, let alone query an item on your account.
Naomi: Can you describe the ‘finest moment’ in your career? What is your main
Anthony: It’s good to have the opportunity to support a customer from their early ideas
about a new project through to its realisation and, hopefully, success. I’m thinking particularly of a restaurateur customer who developed a new hotel above his premises – working through the finances when the original idea was just developing and making sure it had a solid base for success was very rewarding.
Opening the second Manchester branch of Handelsbanken with my colleagues at the Manchester Trinity Way office has to be a highlight.
We’ve had a very busy 18 months and we’re finding a great market for the Handelsbanken way of operating.
Naomi: Please can you tell us more about Handelsbanken and how you differ from other banks in the service you provide?
Anthony: Put simply, it is our dedication to customer service which sets us apart.
The decisions are made in the local branch office, so our customers are dealing with a manager who they know and who knows their business.
Our staffs aren’t paid bonuses and they aren’t targeted to sell products, although we have the products if you ask for them.
In fact, the only target we have is to have more satisfied customers than any other bank.
Naomi: How do you spend your free time? What are your interests?
Anthony: I enjoy horse riding and try to get out at least once a week, whatever the
Naomi: How do you see the future of banking evolving?
Anthony: Retail banking will need to address the lack of trust felt by many business and personal customers. Unfortunately it is hard to imagine turning the tide of centralisation and dealing with the sales culture that has dominated the market. Increased competition in the market will help.
Naomi: How could Handelsbanken help individuals and also businesses?
Anthony: Handelsbanken provides the full range of banking services, including lending, deposits, and money transmission, to businesses and personal customers who appreciate excellent service.
We take a conservative approach to lending; taking the time to consider our customers’ plans and proposals and to provide long-term consistent support. We also provide home mortgages.
Naomi: How can people reading this find out more and what would they need to do to get in touch with you?Find out more about our Commercial Property department