During the year the Group Functions continued to build up Group-wide structures. Going forward the focus will shift more to efficiency work.
The Group Functions operate across the business areas and serve as strategic and administrative support for them. The Group Functions are Group Finance, Risk, Compliance, Corporate Affairs (communication, strategic marketing and community relations), HR, Legal and Group Business Support. The Group Executive Committee is also included in Group Functions.
Group Business Support (GBS)
Group Business Support (GBS) encompasses the Swedbank Group’s business support units. Its purpose is to provide efficient support and free up the business areas, giving them more time to focus on customer relations.
GBS was established in 2010 and will gradually be built up and developed over the next two years. At the same time efficiency improvements will be realised. In 2011 senior management was recruited and the organisation gradually began to work as a single unit across Swedbank’s home markets. As of 31 December 2011 the function consisted of 2 304 employees in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Group IT manages all of Swedbank’s IT operations and development. It also provides services to many of the savings banks. The present organisation was formed in 2009 and has around 1 600 employees. Group IT worked with many projects during the year, including the consolidation and development of computer centres, which is scheduled to for completion in mid-2014. In the first stage a new computer centre was established and one of the older centres was transferred there. This programme also includes modernisation of the IT infrastructure in Sweden. Stringent accessibility requirements were met in 2011.
Group Products (GP) comprises the product units for large parts of Swedbank. The goal is to cost-effectively supply the business units with high-quality products.
GP currently consists of four units: Group Cards, Group Payments & Cash Management, Transfer Agency and Mobile Payments (established 1 October). In 2012 parts of Customer Offerings & Products will be transferred to Group Products from Retail, along with parts of the Baltic Business Development Division from Baltic Banking.
Transfer Agency (which will be part of the Investor Services unit) was transferred operationally to Group Products on 1 July 2011. In the first quarter of 2012 the units Group Insurance, Group Lending and Group Trade Finance will be transferred to GP.
In 2012 parts of Group Savings will also be transferred to GP and Investor Services will continue to be established.
Group Shared Services (GSS) provides sustainable, cost-
effective services to Swedbank’s business units. The current focus is on increasing efficiency. To do so, the best solutions
for cross-border operations are being analysed.
In 2011 GSS supervised the construction of Swedbank’s new head office in Sundbyberg. GSS also comprises Swedbank’s centralised purchasing function. During the year it completed several major procurements, which are expected to lead to significant savings in the years ahead.
In 2012 the focus will be on bringing in more functions to GSS, mainly from Swedish Retail, as well as on continuing the extensive work with Swedbank’s new head office.
"GBS was established in 2010 and will gradually be built up and developed over the next two years. At the same time efficiency improvements will be realised."
Group Transformation (GT) is a centre of competence that is developing a more structured, proactive approach to continuous improvements and working on extensive changes to operations and processes. GT also helps the various business units with their quality work in order to increase long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty. GT was established as a strategic initiative to make Swedbank a more efficient organisation across business areas and countries.
During the year GT worked on improvements to how the bank handles customer opinions and complaints. In 2012 it will work on, among other things, an extensive project involving coordinated purchasing routines.
Group Treasury, is part of Group Finance, and its primary aim
is to ensure that the Group has sufficient liquidity to meet its payment commitments. This is achieved through capital market funding, among other things. In addition, it sets internal interest rates, which are based on the bank’s funding costs, as a basis for the business areas. Group Treasury also manages and finances the Group’s liquidity reserve, handles its liquidity planning, evaluates capital needs and prepares proposals for future capitalisation.
Liquidity was in focus during the year, and proactive measures in the area of funding have strengthened the bank’s liquidity position. Upcoming maturities have been refinanced
in advance and the bank’s liquidity reserve has been further expanded. A number of new requirements here as well as in terms of capital have been announced by domestic and international authorities. Moreover, reporting requirements from various authorities have been increased significantly. The tighter requirements and frequency of reporting required additional resources and necessitated a detailed analysis of the Group’s commitments. The reporting frequency is expected to remain intense in the years ahead, since many of the proposals are still not definite.
During the year ratings agencies also published a number
of new criteria that in some cases have led to additional work. Annual rating meetings have been held with every ratings agency, where Group Treasury and the bank’s executive management further discussed the bank’s strategy mainly with regard to capital, liquidity and funding but also in terms
of the quality of its assets.
In connection with the preparation of the year’s funding plan, all existing funding programmes were reviewed. As a result, a new programme was established for covered bond issues that targets US investors.
Investor relations work has continued with a focus on expanding the investor base in Europe, the US and Asia. This work will continue in 2012.
Other Group Functions
The other Group Functions are Group Finance, Risk, Compliance, Corporate Affairs (communication, strategic marketing and community relations), HR and Legal. The Group Executive Committee and Internal Audit are included as well. The number of full-time positions was 452 (433).
In 2011 Group Functions continued to work with integration to further strengthen strategic and administrative support in the bank’s four home markets.
Moreover, authorities, investors and customers have been demanding more detailed and transparent reporting of the bank’s risks and financial position. This also places greater demands on Group Functions in their work to support the business areas as well as when it comes to analysing and reporting information to the CEO, the Group Executive Committee and the Board of Directors.