05-07-2024 09:15

Charting the course in treasury automation: An interview with Kristoffer Jansell

Meet Kristoffer Jansell, aka Mr. AutoFX, one of the drivers behind Nordea’s cutting-edge automation tools for FX and treasury operations. With a passion for sailing and an entrepreneurial spirit inherited from his grandfather, Kristoffer shares his career journey, insights into the future of treasury automation and how Nordea is working to stay at the forefront of innovation.
Kristoffer Jansell portrait

As a child, Kristoffer Jansell’s favourite pastimes were sailing the Swedish archipelago in his family boat and seeing his grandfather run his own business. While Jansell is not an entrepreneur today, he’s drawn to that entrepreneurial spirit in his current role as Automation Lead for the Nordics in Nordea Markets. He is one of the brains behind AutoFX, Nordea’s award-winning and fully-automated liquidity management tool for managing foreign currency flows and liquidity. He reflects on how he got his start, current automation trends and his advice for the next generation.

What was your biggest dream growing up?

To sail the world. I started sailing alone at the age of six and spent entire summers out on the boat with my family. Each summer, we would sail around the Danish coastline and into the Swedish archipelago, island hopping by boat. I still identify as a sailing guy, even though I don’t have a sailboat today. I have a motorboat, and I excuse myself each time I come into harbour in a motorboat. But I have a 4-year-old, and time efficiency is key. That’s my excuse.

How did you get your start in your career?

I started working part-time at Nordea in Stockholm while studying finance at Lund University. I was in a very different role back then, working as a teller in a local branch, helping private customers in need of a small loan or those getting started with digital services. It was a good start and a way to learn what a bank is all about and that world-class customer service is key.


The great colleagues I work with are worth their weight in gold. We spend so much time at work; if you can have your friends at work, it’s a win-win.

Kristoffer Jansell, Director, Nordea Markets


Can you explain your current role in Nordea?

I work as a director in FX Sales in Nordea Markets in Sweden, driving our FX automation agenda in the Nordics. I started at Markets and FX Sales 10 years ago, first with helping clients with their hedging and currency exchange needs. We started having a conversation with one of our larger clients about whether they could automate some of the recurring manual processes related to FX. We saw huge potential and launched AutoFX in 2016 as a pilot for the biggest corporates. The test went really well, and the customer base has since expanded to a broad range of customers – from one-man shops to the top companies in the world. That’s the beauty of what we have built. It’s something we can adapt to the customer’s needs no matter how big or small. In fact, we were just named world's best bank for treasury FX services by Global Finance.

What would you consider your most important tasks?

My role is to help our clients optimise their processes and sell our solutions, but also to ensure our skilled developers are working hard to meet our customers’ needs. Every quarter, I get surprised by the number of new functions we launch as well as the number of new clients we manage to serve with AutoFX. The growth phase has been really good, similar to that of a successful start-up over the last 8 years. It would be easy to sit back, relax and let the robot do its thing. But we need to constantly push the status quo and develop even smarter, more sophisticated solutions to remain leaders in this field. That requires being close to our clients, to look under the hood and challenge their existing processes, to communicate with our developers and customer experience team. We need to understand what’s doable, also now with AI. It requires a strong interest in our customers’ needs and effective communication, both internally and externally.

What trends do you see when it comes to treasury automation?

A couple of years ago, it was often us on the Nordea side pushing our clients to automate parts of their processes. Now it’s the other way around. Treasurers are not afraid of losing their jobs to the robots anymore. There are so many important subjects on the treasurer’s table right now, from sustainability to geopolitical risk and funding, that they need to automate what they can. They are moving more and more in a strategic direction. In a couple years’ time, we will laugh about all the daily manual tasks treasurers once did surrounding daily transfers and balances. That wasn’t possible a couple of years back because the automation solutions weren’t sophisticated enough. But now it’s difficult to find a recurring manual process around this that can’t be replaced.  

In addition to sailing, skiing is one of Kristoffer's favourite pastimes, here in Ischgl (left) and Marikopf, St. Anton (right).

What gives you energy in your daily work?

Going from an idea on a whiteboard together with a client to a solution in production with 100 clients using it six months later. Seeing the benefits for clients. That makes me really proud of what we’re doing here. It’s also really fun. That, and the great colleagues I work with are worth their weight in gold. We spend so much time at work; if you can have your friends at work, it’s a win-win.

What do you do to relax after a hectic day at work?

I work out a lot, not because I think it's fun but because I have to in order to stay zen. I go out running and push myself in a direction where I don’t have to think too much. To reset my brain, I sometimes take out my DJ equipment and prepare a setlist for a party. I’ve always been a big fan of creating events and gathering friends and colleagues for fun. And when I really need to clear my head, I boot up the PlayStation, though I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but it works for me. To be honest, most days are quite hectic, and most often I simply go home and spend time with my amazing family and play with my daughter. 


Don’t be shy about your ideas and what you want, even if you are junior. 

Kristoffer Jansell, Director, Nordea Markets


Who has been an important source of inspiration for you throughout your career?

My #1 idol has always been my grandfather, who started his own business, an electronics servicing company, 91 years ago. The best thing growing up was to see him in his office, sitting at his computer (if you can call it that), calculating prices and margins and discussing with customers and suppliers. I thought that was really cool. Where I work today has some of that same entrepreneurial spirit. 

I would also name Hanna Lycken, a manager I had when working in Business Banking at Nordea. She is the evidence that it’s so important to have a true sponsor that sees your potential and pushes you in the right direction at the beginning of your career. Even though she’s not my manager now, she is still pushing and challenging me. That’s something everybody needs, but especially what I needed as a frustrated 25-year-old with an overabundance of ideas and energy. She was a true mentor and inspiration.

What advice would you give young people dreaming about a career in finance?

Work harder, ask more questions and listen more than your peers. Seize the opportunities in front of you, and invest time to build your knowledge and skills. That will kickstart your career and save you time in the long run. Don’t be shy about your ideas and what you want, even if you are junior. When people ask what you want to do, state it. Hopefully you will have a mentor or manager that will push you in the right direction. If not, make sure you get someone around you that understands your situation who you can spar with. So get started and say something! 


Kristoffer Jansell at a glance

Position: Director, FX Sales, Nordea 

Family: Married with a 4-year-old daughter

Studies: BSc Finance, University of Lund

Interests: Navigating the archipelago, music and skiing – either off-piste or on the kids’ slope with my daughter 

Daily news and updates: Nordea Markets – you get enough when you sit next to the Research team! 

Favourite book: Anything by Jens Lapidus – I find it fascinating (and terrifying) to read about the criminal underworld that exists close to our ordinary lives in Stockholm.

Favourite podcast: Spike’s Car Radio

Favourite TV show: Game of Thrones

Favourite vacation destinations: Skiing St. Anton and sailing the Croatian coastline

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