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BANKING

Smarter than bigger rivals: SEB

SEB dominates in cash management because of its technological edge and careful response to customer needs.

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Perhaps the surest way to beat a rival many times your size is to outsmart him. Having a clever approach to the business has helped Sweden’s SEB to more than hold its own against the industry’s global players in its home region in the cash management business despite its rivals’ important scale advantages.

In the cash management business, where margins are slim on the processing of millions of transactions, scale is one of the most important competitive advantages. Management consultants are constantly predicting that all but the biggest players will have to leave the business at some point as competition and regulation squeeze out the weak and undersized.

But better processes and technology can change the economics of scale. “We’ve always worked with efficiency,” says Pia Warnerman, head of transaction services at SEB. “Historically the Nordic markets have always had to be much more efficient than many in continental Europe because of higher staff costs.

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