Anders Bouvin is the boss of the most successful bank you've probably never heard of. And he, like the bank he runs, will challenge your preconceptions.
For starters, this African-born, Swedish chief executive of Handelsbanken's growing UK operation doesn't receive an annual bonus, ...[and] has been with the Swedish bank for 28 years.
Most surprisingly, the 55-year-old supports west London's Queens Park Rangers Football Club with a passion intriguing for a Swede who spent the first 10 years of his life growing up in Zimbabwe.
….Anders Bouvin…was thrilled to be offered a job…in a company "whose values coincided completely with my own".
Those values - long-term-ism, and a philosophy of de-centralization encapsulated in the slogan "the branch is the bank" - seem almost too good to be true in a current banking era of fines, debt crises and outsourced customer service.
Big banks, according to the popular narrative, were the primary causers of the global debt crisis thanks to their reckless investment in high-risk mortgage-backed bonds.
Handelsbanken says its branches, such as this one in Aberdeen, come first
But Handelsbanken remained above the fray, emerging with a balance sheet strong enough to make European banking regulators purr with delight.
…next to no marketing keeps overheads down and return on equity up.
At Handelsbanken returning a share of the profits to long-term staff is also key. If the bank exceeds the average profitability rate of its peers, then surplus profits are put into a fund and distributed to all the staff.
* Founded in 1871
* Has no sales or market-share targets
* Staff get flat salaries without bonuses
* Claims to have achieved higher profitability than the average of its rivals for 41 years in a row
...Handelsbanken, headquarter[ed] in London, is expanding to meet increased demand while some of its larger rivals get smaller.
"Many banks are having to absorb huge losses and have had to shrink to repair their balance sheets... and there are clear indications that SMEs [small and medium-sized businesses] are bearing the brunt of this. It's very sad."
All in all, Anders Bouvin appears the least likely candidate for executive burnout you'll ever meet.
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