CITO representative Viktor Mårdström went on yet another excursion into Singapore’s busy and densely built financial district, the so-called Downtown Core. After getting lost several times and accidentally ending up in the office of Merrill Lynch, CITO was finally able to get to the meeting with Handelsbanken and its Singapore General Manager and Senior Vice President, Jan Djerf.
Mr Djerf is an experienced and long time expat in Singapore, having lived there for quite a few years. He also chairs the Swedish Business Association as well as being Vice President of the European Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. His long experience with the Singapore business community and banking in particular gives Mr Djerf a profound insight into what it’s like being a foreign company operating in Singapore. He shares some of his views and knowledge about this topic in general while at the same time explaining about Handelsbanken and its operations in Singapore.
Svenska Handelsbanken AB is a publicly traded Swedish bank that covers more or less the entire spectrum of banking activities, competing primarily in the Nordic market with the other three Swedish major banks SEB, Nordea and Swedbank. When discussing the business of the bank Mr Djerf paints a similar picture compared to when Bo Carlsson of SEB described his bank earlier this week; Conservative would probably be a good way to sum up Mr Djerfs elaboration on Handelsbanken, something Mr Djerf readily agrees with saying that the bank doesn’t involve itself with any risky and complex financial instruments.
Mr Djerf explains that Handelsbanken treats the Nordic countries and Holland as its home markets, while at the same time pursuing a major expansion of businesses and offices in the United Kingdom. This is due to what he describes as a very attractive business opportunity in retail banking for new entrants into the British market because of sub-par performance by local banks. In Asia, the bank has been established for a comparatively long time, much like SEB. Handelsbanken’s main business in Asia is selling letters of credit and financing solutions for corporations from its home markets. The bank does not generally enter into business with local corporations. CITO would like to extend our warmest gratitude to Mr Djerf and Handelsbanken for hosting this meeting!