If I say “Handelsbanken” you may be mistaken to think I was speaking to you in German.  This is certainly not the case, Handelsbanken is in fact a Swedish bank with branches across the UK.  I met up with Sevenoaks Branch Manager Nick Brooker to find out more about what makes Handelsbanken different and what exactly are they giving away for this issue’s prize crossword?

Handelsbanken will be a new name to many people.  How does its approach differ from traditional high street banks?

In some ways it doesn’t.  We are a full service bank with a comprehensive range of products and services similar to any of the high street banks.  I guess the main differences are the quality of our service and the personal and bespoke element we offer all of our customers.  Plus the ease with which people can contact us, discuss their needs and get a decision.

So no call-centre or ‘dial one for…’ approach?

That’s right. All of our customers deal with us directly through our branch in Sevenoaks irrespective of size or needs.  They also speak directly to decision makers which is a major factor.

Is your target market business customers, private individuals – or both?

It is very much both.  We don’t just cater for niche businesses or high-net worth individuals as is sometimes assumed.  Our product range will suit anyone, whether business or personal, looking for a long-term banking relationship.  In reality the bespoke element we offer often suits people who may have less straightforward banking needs and who want something tailored for themselves.

What about security?  Is Handelsbanken a safe and secure place for people to deposit their money?

Handelsbanken has been around since 1871 and is a very solid, prudently run organisation.  We are very proud of the strong reputation we have in our market and this view is shared by those who monitor and assess the banking industry in general.  We offer the same deposit protection scheme as other banks although ours is Euros 100,000 and is underwritten by the Swedish government.

You have been open for business in Sevenoaks for a couple of years now.  How has the response been so far?

We have been very encouraged to date, attracting many local businesses and private individuals from the area, looking for a genuine long-term banking relationship.  Many from the TN8 area in fact have heard about us, often through friends or associates and have become customers.

How important for you is it to be part of the local community in which you operate?

This is a big factor for us.  We have already formed strong ties with some of the schools, sporting associations and cultural events in the area and will generally continue to support local community events and services where we can.  We are also members of both the Sevenoaks and Eden Valley Chambers of Commerce.

Finally, I am pleased you have offered a prize of a ‘Fika’ hamper for our current crossword competition…but what exactly is ‘Fika’?

Well, Fika is a Swedish tradition which, in simple terms, means coffee with cake.  It is one of their traditions that we have been very happy to adopt in our Sevenoaks branch. So the lucky winner can look forward to a basket full of delicious Swedish goodies!

1st Floor, 50-52 London Road, Bligh’s Meadow, Sevenoaks, TN13 1AS

01732 452920 | www.handelsbanken.co.uk/sevenoaks

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