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Nordea’s new king of costs makes his mark

Frank Vang-Jensen, Nordea’s new CEO, is living up to his reputation as a cost axeman, but claims he can reverse the bank’s recent market-share losses at the same time.


Frank Vang-Jensen is making no excuses for sweeping aside his predecessor’s record, as he leads Scandinavia’s biggest bank into a new era of austerity.

A month after Nordea named him its new chief executive, Vang-Jensen’s plan for the coming three years can be summarized in one word: costs. Cutting costs to less than 50% of revenues was the be-all and end-all at the bank’s investor day in London on Friday.

Vang-Jensen fielded numerous questions from analysts about the impact of the cost push on the bank’s ability to find new clients and shore up revenues. After all, Svenska Handelsbanken sacked Vang-Jensen in 2016, amid similar concerns, after he had been less than 18 months in the CEO’s job at that Swedish bank.

However, in Vang-Jensen’s view, Nordea can reverse its market-share losses of recent years – even as it embarks on an even thinner expenses regime.

Speaking to Euromoney at the event, Vang-Jensen claims there is no trade-off between the customer franchise and efficiency.

“It’s about delivering both,” he says. “They are closely combined: we need to prioritize and make hard choices.”

Von Koskull

As Vang-Jensen announced his first quarterly results as CEO on Thursday, he has already moved the bank away from the tenure of Casper von Koskull, CEO for the past four years.

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