Handelsbanken gives Netherlands ‘home market’ status, buys UK wealth manager

Sweden’s Handelsbanken has upgraded its Netherlands operations to ‘home market’ status, acquired UK wealth and investment manager Heartwood, and announced a number of key appointments.

The Netherlands market is now given the stame status as Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland as well as the UK, which has been a key market for the Swedish bank for some years.

It means that Mikael Sørensen, Handelsbanken’s general manager in the Netherlands, has been appointed executive vice president and become a member of the bank’s senior management team.

“We see major opportunities for continued growth here in the Netherlands. The market is similar to the UK, with a few large, centralised banks. We are opening branches and working close to the customer in a decentralised manner,” said Sørensen.

“Our business model works well in the Netherlands. We attract good customers whose finances are in good order. They like the fact that we do not have bonuses or sales targets. They want to be able to go into their local branch to get help with anything from mortgages to larger transactions. The personal contact they have with us is very much appreciated.”

From opening its first local branch five years ago, Handelsbanken currently has 105 employees in the Netherlands, spread across 15 branches in places such as Groningen, Maastricht, Twente, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Handelsbanken’s move to acquire Heartwood in the UK increases its access to high net worth individuals in the country’s Southeast region, including London.
Heartwood offers discretionary investment management, as well as financial advice on pensions and retirement planning.

Anders Bouvin, head of Handelsbanken UK, said: “Handelsbanken is steadily growing and maturing in the UK, particularly amongst customers with high requirements for qualified asset management. This acquisition makes it possible for us to widen our offering to current and future customers.”

“We have followed the progress of Heartwood for a while and have been impressed by their approach to wealth and investment management. Just like Handelsbanken, Heartwood values satisfied customers more than the number of sold products. This is the best way to build up profitable business.”

The UK is Handelsbanken’s fastest growing market. There are currently 147 branches there with a new one being added every eighth business day, the bank said.

Also in the UK, the bank has announced the appointment of John Parker as the new head of Handelsbanken’s Regional Bank Northern Great Britain. Currently he is regional area manager of the Regional Bank Southern Great Britain. Parker, who also becomes a member of the bank’s senior management team, takes over the role previously performed by Tracey Davidson, who is to take on responsibilities for the integration of Heartwood. These personnel changes take place on 1 March.

The bank is also shifting its senior staff in Sweden.

Sefan Nilsson has been appointed head of the bank’s regional bank in Eastern Sweden, and becomes a member of the bank’s senior management team.Nilsson is curently general manager of Handelsbanken US. In Sweden he succeeds Mikael Westerback, who becomes the new general manager for Handelsbanken in China. Nilsson takes up his new position on 1 May, while Westerback starts his on 1 June.


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