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Persistence pays off

Persistence pays off

​​​​​Modern digital offer, strong local presence helps WSBI-ESBG Swedish member scores tops in country's quality index survey for 2020. 

News & Views​ hears from Sparbankernas Riksförbund CEO Ewa Anderson, who leads the association of Swedish savings banks, who explains more.

Trägen vinner. A Swedish proverb that means “persistence wins.”

That saying especially rings true for savings banks in Sweden. After steady efforts to innovate while keeping local roots, Swedish savings banks received in September the highest overall customer quality score in a country-wide survey.

In this year's Swedish Quality Index, or SKI survey, the Swedish savings banks received the highest rating among all banks in Sweden among both private and corporate customers. The result came thanks in part to savings banks efforts to build a modern digital offer together with a strong local presence and commitment to the customer. Customers like how savings bank form an important part of the local community. They also like the well-functioning digital services and especially appreciate close and personal service to customers.

Being tops in the survey forms only one part of the story, however. The other part is how we got there. We stuck to locally focused banking, balancing both digital and personal customer experience at the same time. Getting the balance right required great planning, a lot of hard work and commitment. The payoff translated not just to high scores, but to greatly helping communities and real economy households and businesses that depend on them in a globalised world and during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Research shows that where there is a bank, there exists higher growth and entrepreneurial activity than in areas where the local bank does not exist.

We definitely have an advantage. We are so close to the customer with some 200 offices in 19 provinces, important financial link for people and companies, namely outside the big cities When it comes to entrepreneurship, we know that it is hugely important for the entrepreneur that they can seek the personal contact at the bank. Savings banks in Sweden forge an important financial link for people and companies, namely outside the big cities.

While serving at local level matters in today’s world uncertain world, our 2.2 million customers depend more and more on digital services while seeking locally anchored banks. They expect banking that’s online, mobile or through branches, close to customers and grasp their everyday lives. Although most customer meetings today take place via digital interfaces, The close and personal meetings affect satisfaction and loyalty the most.

Customer ratings matter greatly for Spar​banker, Swedish for “savings banks”, which score well every year. They give a tried-and-true reminder that the unique idea of savings banks matters to people. Our efforts get recognised by them. Savings banks have long earned a high level of trust among customers, so it is therefore gratifying that we have now taken another strong step forward. To keep our scores up, we will stay persistent.​

The savings bank idea: 200 years strong in Sweden

Ever since the first savings bank started up in 1820, local anchoring, long-term thinking and community underpinned their business concept. For 200 years, good profitability and high customer satisfaction form the basis for savings banks' work and chances to support growth locally. This year’s “Saving Bank Idea 200” outreach campaign gives Sparbankernas Riksförbund members a way to share their 200-year story. The campaign weaves in World Savings Day as well to share the savings banks unique role in society. Association head Ewa Anderson will broadcast that day that message with the Swedish minister of finance.

An association for 58 savings banks and savings bank foundation-owned bank limited companies and 13 savings bank foundations, Sparbankernas Riksförbund members form the fifth largest banking group in terms of deposits and lending in the Swedish banking market. As Swedish savings banks respond to customer need in the Covid-19 pandemic, they continue to give back to society in many other ways too. Savings banks together provided last year some SEK500 ($US59 million) back to society. One of the most important givers to Sweden society, more than 5,000 associations of different kinds received grants and sponsorships from Sweden’s savings banks.​

Digitalisation; Customer Centricity