OREANDA-NEWS. December 02, 2013. Annika Falkengren, CEO of SEB Group, was the first northerner to be honoured with the title of European Banker of the Year, given to her in a ceremony in Frankfurt am Main this week by Group 20+1.

“The award pleases me greatly. It means acknowledgement for all of SEB and the bank’s 16,000 employees who act in the interest of our clients every day,” said Falkengren.

Falkengren was honoured with the award based on the results for 2012, and it was presented to her by 2011 laureate David de Rothschild, from the Rothschild Group. Previously, the title has been awarded to acknowledged financiers, such as Josef Ackermann, from Deutsche Bank, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and Jean-Claude Trichet, former president of the European Central Bank.

In her acceptance speech, Falkengren noted that the corporate identity of SEB is strongly rooted in servicing enterprises and innovation. As the leading bank in the Nordic countries and Germany, SEB currently has a strong regional view, although the bank is continuing to focus more on international markets in countries that are targeted for export.

Falkengren also highlighted the fact that in the years before the financial crisis the problem was that the global banking sector diverged from its primary function to be the economy’s circulatory system. Too much energy was spent on creating and designing financial instruments in an environment where risks were not evaluated properly.

“Previous years have shown that the bank cannot operate without the trust of different target groups, clients, employees, investors, politicians, regulators, media, and the whole of society. For this, we need to increase transparency, create stability and predictability, and, most importantly, focus on our main role to support clients and thereby the growth and development of the real economy.”

The title of European Banker of the Year is bestowed by Group 20 +1, which includes 20 leading finance journalists from publications such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. The group was established in 1993, upon the initiative of German communications bureau Maleki Group.