Here’s a fascinating article about Handelsbanken, the Swedish bank that has over 200 branches in the UK and is the fastest growing bank in the UK.
The article explains how the bank has a very different approach from the typical large banks, which are very focused on finding the benefits of large-scale. Handelsbanken is much more like a network of small banks, and local branch managers have considerable autonomy.
This approach date back to the early 70s. At the time, Handelsbanken was struggling financially and a new CEO came in, Jan Wallander. He reorganised the bank (which at the time was the largest bank in Sweden), adopting the principle of decentralization. Among other things, he cut the head office by a third and abandoned all budgeting and long-term planning work. He was ahead of his time in this, anticipating the recent interest in self-organisation through local empowerment, and implementing it on a large scale.
The customers certainly seem to rate it highly. “This year, as has been the case for the past six years, Handelsbanken’s customers are more satisfied and more loyal than those of their High Street bank peers,” reported rating group EPSI last year.