Longstanding boss of Swedish lender moves to Swiss private bank Lombard Odier, Annika Falkengren steps down as SEB Chief Executive
Annika Falkengren is stepping down as chief executive of Swedish lender SEB to join Swiss private bank Lombard Odier as managing partner.
Ms Falkengren, who has been chief executive for 11 years and worked at SEB for almost three decades, successfully guided the bank through the financial crisis and gained a reputation as one of the most powerful women in finance. She is the only true independent director on Volkswagen’s supervisory board.
“After all my years at the helm of SEB, it was not easy to take a decision to pursue a new career and role. However, I have come to the conclusion that now is the right moment,” said Ms Falkengren.
SEB said she would leave by July 2017 at the latest and added it would now begin a process to recruit a new chief executive.
Ms Falkengren’s appointment is a coup for Lombard Odier, which is facing stiff competition to manage the assets of the world’s rich — including from Swiss banking rivals such as Pictet and Julius Baer as well as UBS and Credit Suisse. Swiss private banks have had to rethink their business models after the US-led crackdown on tax evasion and are looking for expansion, particularly in Asia. Lombard Odier’s senior managing partner remains Patrick Odier, who stepped down last year as chairman of the Swiss Bankers’ Association.
Swedish banks came through the 2008/09 global financial crisis in relatively good shape, although the exposure of the likes of SEB to the Baltic states caused some headaches. Worried about their relative large size to the Swedish economy, regulators in Stockholm have forced local lenders to have some of the highest capital ratios in Europe.
But the Swedish central bank and some analysts remain worried about the local housing market — particularly in the large cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo — after years of negative interest rates have boosted prices.
Marcus Wallenberg, SEB’s chairman and one of Sweden’s leading businessmen, said that the bank’s strategy and financial targets would remain unaltered.
“Annika Falkengren has with her longstanding commitment to SEB and its customers, her stellar leadership and her deep industry knowledge, shown that people matter. She successfully navigated SEB through the global financial crisis and set a clear strategy forward on which she and the whole SEB team relentlessly has delivered,” he added.
Ms Falkengren and Denis Pittet, a lawyer by training who has worked at Lombard Odier since 1993, will both become managing partners, which involves becoming an owner of the private bank as well as helping run it.
Mr Odier said: “These two appointments represent a strong endorsement of our strategy, differentiated business model and long-term vision.”