The award was handed over by David de Rothschild, from Rothschild Group, who received the award for 2011. This is the first time someone from Scandinavia receives the prestigious award, which has previously gone to renowned financial profiles including Josef Ackermann, Deutsche Bank, Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and Jean-Claude Trichet, from the European Central Bank.
In her acceptance speech Annika Falkengren emphasized that SEB´s corporate identity is firmly rooted in the original role at the service of enterprises and innovation. SEB of today has a strong regional approach, as the leading corporate bank in the Nordics and Germany, but with an international outlook, reflecting the export driven countries SEB operates in.
She looked back at the previous years and highlighted that what she really brought with her from the acute phase of the financial crisis was the need to stay open for customers and never lose sight on why the bank exist.
”To us in SEB it was key to stay open as a bank despite only partly functioning capital markets. It was about being there for our customers even in tough times”, she said.
One of the problems during the years that preceded the financial crisis was that the global banking sector lost focus on its fundamental role as the lubricant of the real economy. Too much energy was invested in the creation and tailoring of new financial instruments in an environment where risk came to be incorrectly priced.
“The past years have made it very evident that no bank can operate without building trust from all different stakeholders, customers, employees, investors, politicians, regulators, media and society at large. To do this we must increase transparency, create stability and predictability and most important, focus on our fundamental role, to support customers and thus growth and prosperity in the real economy”.
The award European Banker of the year is awarded by Group 20+1, a group of 20 leading financial journalists from publications including Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. The group was formed in 1993 on the initiative of German communications company Maleki Group.