CEO blog: Looking beyond the storm

Frank Vang-Jensen, President and Group CEO.
20-04-02 15:27 | About Nordea | Frank Vang-Jensen

The coronavirus outbreak is an extraordinary crisis that affects all parts of our societies.

Primarily it is a serious health crisis and it is of utmost importance that we do all we can to save lives and protect the vulnerable groups of our society. I want to thank all the health care workers, experts and authorities for their efforts and help.

At the same time, the outbreak is also a societal and economic crisis which impacts our everyday lives. Workplaces, schools, cafes, restaurants, sports clubs and other places that are part of our daily lives have been closed all over the world and international travel has stopped.

In the Nordic countries our economies have halted and we are starting to see the wider effects of the crisis. As business has slowed down, companies have had to lay off employees and unemployment is expected to rise. Small businesses as well as medium-sized and large companies that were in solid condition just a month ago are now suffering.

At Nordea, we are doing all we can to support our customers in these challenging times. Unfortunately we also need to recognise that we can’t help and save everyone. The economic fallout of the crisis will be severe, and we will see bankruptcies. Borrowing can be a way for a healthy business to cope with the difficult times, but it can’t be the solution for all businesses.

However, Nordea has prepared better for this crisis than ever before. I can promise and assure you that we are doing our utmost, working around the clock to contribute and help to the biggest extent possible, within our role as a bank.

In the midst of the storm, it is also important to try to have a look beyond it. I am impressed by the quick actions governments have taken to block the spread of the virus. These will be needed before the societies start to recover. It will happen eventually, and I believe now is the right time for a dialogue about it.

At Nordea, we are doing our best to assess the situation with all the information we have access to. We are in continuous talks with governments, health authorities and central banks. We are also in a unique position to share insights with our 9 million personal and over 500,000 corporate customers.

At the moment, our best estimate is that we could expect to see the first signs of economic recovery in early summer. It is also reasonable to acknowledge that our economies are not going to withstand the current slowdown that much longer.

This is the best estimate we can give at the moment. Of course nobody knows for sure, but this is what we believe.

It needs to be admitted that the recovery will take time and there will likely be setbacks on the way.  Societies need to be prepared to offer long-term support to people and businesses.

That is why we need to start planning for the steps forward, but also consider how things will look once we move on from the current extraordinary conditions.

First we need to find the right balance between how we continue to fight the spread of the virus and gradually open up our societies and businesses. Once that happens, companies will need to assess how their business environment has changed and how they can best adapt to this.

Nordea will be part of the solution in this work. We are doing all we can to help and support our customers. We do this in many different ways – not only through financing, but we also offer insights, data, expertise and advice. It’s about finding the best combination of our tools to soften the impact of the crisis.

Stay safe and healthy, stay calm and take care.

/Frank Vang-Jensen, President and Group CEO

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