Bringing cross-border expertise to the UK

2 November 2023

Building on its long presence in London, SEB in the UK is expanding its offering to entrepreneurs, private individuals, families, and foundations. We sat down with Stefan Stjerngren, recently appointed Head of the Private Wealth Management & Family Office division at SEB in the UK, to discuss the bank’s ambitious agenda, its cross-border expertise, and the long-term commitment to the Nordic UK community. 

“SEB is very much a relationship bank, and that comes with a long-term commitment,” says Stefan Stjerngren, Head of Private Wealth Management and Family Office at SEB in the UK, an SCC patron. “I really like this way of having a long-term view and seeing results. That is what has kept me staying with the bank over the years.” 

Stefan’s track-record with SEB goes back all the way to his uni-years when he joined its future leader and private banker trainee programme. After working for the bank for a few years in Stockholm, he was offered to embark on an international career in Luxembourg. “That is now more than 20 years ago,” he recalls. “I became this international banker, which has been extremely fun and challenging.”

Growing in the UK
SEB has been present in the UK since 1969, mainly as a corporate bank, but it was with the bank’s decision to further grow and develop its Private Wealth Management and Family Office business that Stefan seized the opportunity to make the move and join the London office. “The UK is a very special market for SEB. London is the meeting place for many of our clients, regardless of whether you live here or elsewhere.” 

Not just a local presence  
“What is new in our division is the focus on family offices where we are creating a stronger and more defined concept going forward, which will complement our existing private wealth management services,” Stefan says. Through the London office, SEB will be offering the full capacity of the bank by cooperating with other parts of the SEB Group. “It is not just a local UK team. The global client responsibility will typically sit in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark or Luxembourg and then we add competence and services locally to support our clients. Together with the understanding of cross-border complexity, this kind of strong combination is what will make our success going forward.”

Understanding the cross-border complexity 
The bank’s Nordic roots combined with international expertise seem to be the winning formula that sets SEB apart from other suppliers in the UK. “We are a Nordic bank, supporting Nordic customers as well as the German family office segment. That is the starting point,” Stefan says about SEB’s ability to stand out from the competition. “We understand Nordic needs and co-operate with strong partners in the UK ecosystem to extend the client offering beyond what we can deliver ourselves.”

According to Stefan, the focus on cross-border and international needs is an offering which is not that common locally in the UK. “The local competitors are good at the UK needs, but as soon as a family has needs in or moves to another jurisdiction, they would probably need to go to another bank.”

Being part of the Nordic UK community
For Stefan, it is a matter of course that SEB continues supporting and being active in the Nordic community in London and in the rest of the UK. “We want people to know that we are here to stay, that we are growing, and that we understand the complexity of the new post-Brexit environment.” And the Nordic way of doing business is definitely something that clients take notice of. “What clients tend to appreciate is the high service level and our quick decision making. We are a flat organisation, and they see themselves in our values and culture.” 

Co-creating with clients
Understanding and adapting to the post-Brexit environment is key to ensure success for the cross-border offering, which, according to Stefan, has gone very well. “What adaptations, if any, do we need to make in the new environment? It’s not a revolution – it’s more a matter of an evolution that we are seeing here. But you have to be humble and do this in a correct and compliant way. It is in the DNA of SEB to deliver on that.” 

In the end, it all comes down to listening to the clients and their needs, all whilst accounting for sustainability, which is an integral part of SEB’s offering. “What do the clients want? What passions do they have in life, and what do they believe in? Can we deliver on this, or do we have partners that can deliver around the green transition? It’s not always that easy, but I think it all comes down to co-creation with the clients.”

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