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Eurozone, regulations and recovery dominate Financial Summit

The future of the Eurozone and impact of regulatory changes on the financial services market dominated the agenda at yesterday’s SEB Financial Summit. While speakers didn’t always see eye to eye, there was general consensus that the crisis is not over and building credibility will be key to long-term success.

The attending chief financial officers gained plenty of insight into the challenges facing the market, with speakers covering the full scope of the industry, from SEB experts, the media, clients and the Swedish government.

“Things are changing so fast and we are confronted by things that we didn’t even think could happen. It’s a testament that when times are difficult and waters are uncharted that we need more time together to talk about the issues,” Magnus Carlsson, head of SEB’s corporate banking business, said to open the day-long event.

It was a theme picked up by SEB President and CEO Annika Falkengren who was quite forthright when presenting her view of the situation: “It will be a very long time before we can talk about a new normal.” She went on to emphasis that in these “uncharted waters” the days of price dominating the choice of banking partner were over.

“It comes down to relationships - who do you really trust, who is there for the long term, who is optimising your business.”

In keeping with ideals of relationship banking, Falkengren outlined three areas clients should consider in this climate:

  • Choosing a banking partner that is strong enough to support client needs through turbulent markets and the impact of regulatory change
  • The client’s own capital and liquidity position
  • Efficiency in terms of products and services.

As part of a multi-faceted discussion on resolving the crisis Wolfgang Münchau, associate editor for the Financial Times, said it could be up to three years before southern European countries were back on track.

“The ECB (European Central Bank) has bought time, but time to do what?” he asked. “We don’t have the policies… we aren’t doing anything now that we weren’t doing six months ago. We won’t see Armageddon this year, but we haven’t solved the crisis.”

SEB has held the Financial Summit for the past three years.

Further speakers at this year’s summit were: Susanne Ackum, state secretary for the Swedish Ministry of Finance, Anders Kvist, head of SEB's Group Financial Management, Timo Riakalio, CEO of Ilmarinen Oy, Lars Thulstrup Bruhn, group treasurer for LEGO, Jesper Ovesen, member of SEB's board and executive chairman of the board of Nokia Siemens Networks.