The Swedish Banking Market

Banks in Sweden

Banks, mortgage and financial institutions and insurance companies are the largest groups on the Swedish financial market. Mutual fund companies and the state administered AP Funds (general supplementary pension funds) are also important players on the market. ​

The balance sheet total of the securities companies is modest in comparison with other finance companies, but they play an important role in society.

Number of banks

In December 2019, Sweden had a total of 125 banks. They can be divided into four main categories: commercial banks, foreign banks, savings banks and co-operative banks.

The number of commercial banks and foreign bank branches in Sweden has increased from 62 in 2009 to 78 in 2019. The increase has occurred above all among Swedish commercial banks, when several credit market institutions have transformed into commercial banks, but also when European banks have opened bank branches in Sweden.

Commercial banks

Commercial banks are divided into three groups. The largest are the three big Swedish banks: Swedbank, Handelsbanken and SEB. These banks are important actors on most segments of the financial market.

The second group consists of savings banks that have been converted into joint stock companies, often with Swedbank as a shareholder.

The third category constitutes other Swedish Commercial banks with a diverse business focus and ownership structure. Several of the other commercial banks were formed from the mid-1990s onwards. At first these banks were mainly focused on the retail banking market and distributed their products and services through Telephone and online, but also through, for example, retail stores. There are also examples of new banks with a background in securities trading and, in the last few years, several new banks with a background in the financing business.

The newly established banks have, in the course of time, increased the selection of financial products and many of these are today regarded as full-service banks for private customers.

Foreign banks

foreign banks were first allowed to open subsidiaries in Sweden. In the space of a few years, in connection with the financial crisis in the beginning of the 1990s, the number of foreign banks declined. Foreign banks were also permitted to open branches in 1990 and, since then, they have increased.

In December 2019, the foreign banks amounted to 37. After Nordea moved its headquarters to Finland in October 2018, the bank became by far the largest foreign bank in Sweden. Danske Bank is the second largest foreign bank in Sweden. Nordea and Danske Bank have services and products for all types of customers. Most other foreign banks focus on the corporate banking and securities market

Savings banks

There are numerous independent savings banks in Sweden and they are active in regional or local markets. Most savings banks operate in co-operation with Swedbank as regards technical solutions and the provision of a common range of products and services. The number of savings banks declined for several years due to small savings banks having merged.

Co-operative banks

A co-operative bank is an economic association that has as its purpose to produce bank services for its members. To be able to use the bank services of a co-operative bank, the customer must become a member by paying a member share. There are two small co-operative banks in Sweden.

 

Number of banks in Sweden​​


TYPE OF BANK 2009 (Dec) 2019 (Dec)
Swedish commercial banks 32 41
    - of which are big banks 4 3
    - of which former savings banks 13 14
    - of which other Swedish commercial banks 15 24
Foreign banks 30 37
    - of which subsidiaries 3 0
    - of which branches  27 37
Savings banks 53 45
Co-operative banks 2 2

TOTAL

117 125

Source: The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority