Our customers are our top priority – and we shall be available for our customers where they are, when they need us, including in the long term.
We will support growth by offering our customers the right financial products and providing advice that facilitates sustainable growth. This also means that we make requirements of our customers when we provide these services.
Profitable bank in Western Norway
We will facilitate economic growth in Western Norway for a long time to come. In order to fulfil our social mission, one of our goals is to deliver financial security through stable profitability. This is an important premise for being able to retain our role as a socially responsible organisation and a bank that the people of Western Norway can trust.
We will support a healthy business sector that can weather change.
For us, responsible business means integrating corporate social responsibility in all business processes and all parts of the value chain. From developing products to meeting customers, from selecting suppliers to supporting local communities. We also make clear requirements of our customers (PDF - in Norwegian only) with respect to responsible business practice.
One criterion that applies to all customer relationships is that customers must comply with the laws and agreements that apply in Norway and the countries where the customers are present. This includes working for gender equality and zero tolerance for racism and other forms of discrimination in the workplace. Correspondingly, we expect customers to respect regulations for the use of natural resources, activity in areas that are currently used by the local population or indigenous population, or in areas with a vulnerable environment, endangered species or water shortage.
We will not grant financing to customers/businesses that:
- Operate in breach of the bank’s Code of Ethics or in other ways conduct their business in conflict with the generally accepted view of what constitutes ethical conduct.
- Have acted dishonestly in relation to the bank or other parties, and/or if they are known to be/have been involved in criminal activity.
- Operate in conflict with laws, regulations and official environmental requirements, without the necessary approval from the authorities. This includes principles laid down in:
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- The Working Environment Act
- The UN Convention against Corruption
- The Money Laundering Act
- The Taxation Act
- The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act
- The Natural Diversity Act and the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act
- The Wetlands Convention (the Ramsar Convention)
- The Pollution Control Act
- The Accounting Act
- The Animal Welfare Act
Sparebanken Vest wants the companies we finance to demonstrate that they have procedures in place to comply with statutory requirements and that they, in word and deed, conduct themselves in a manner that is in accordance with general perceptions of what constitutes ethical conduct.
At Sparebanken Vest, Risk Management is an independent second-line function that reports to the CEO. The bank also has committees required by law, such as a risk committee and an audit committee.
The annual report contains a more detailed description of the bank’s risk management activities, related to four main areas:
• Credit risk
• Market risk
• Liquidity risk
• Operational risk (including compliance risk)
It also underlines that the bank has drawn up separate guidelines to ensure independence in its control and risk reporting.
The Board has appointed the following committees as part of this work:
• The Audit Committee is charged with ensuring that Sparebanken Vest has an independent and effective external and internal audit function, and financial and risk reporting that is in accordance with laws and regulations.
• The Risk Committee is charged with ensuring that Sparebanken Vest’s risk and capital management underpins the bank’s strategic development and goal attainment.
The bank’s Compliance department is an independent function, and is also described in more detail in the annual report.
Good solutions and customer satisfaction
We will provide good financial solutions and professional advice to our customers. By knowing the customer and addressing their overall financial needs, we create the foundation for good customer experiences and high customer satisfaction. Good customer relations are important to stable and profitable banking operations, and a precondition for meeting our social mission. Sparebanken Vest conducts its own measurements of customer satisfaction and is also part of EPSI Norway's annual banking survey (in Norwegian only). In 2018, the bank achieved a score in this survey of 73.3 in the retail market, which is 1.7 points above the average for the industry. It also achieved a score of 67.5 for the corporate market (the first year the bank’s corporate market was officially included in the survey).
We depend on customers’ trust in us and in our solutions, and this must be the starting point for everything we do. It is becoming increasingly important to customers that the returns they make are not at the expense of the environment or social factors. It is thus important to customers that corporate social responsibility forms an integral part of our business.
Anti-money laundering and anti-corruption work
Pursuant to the Money Laundering Act, the bank has a responsibility to know its customers (KYC), and, in that connection, a strict policy applies to establishing customer relationships. The bank shall not be used as a vehicle in connection with criminal acts such as money laundering and corruption.
We therefore always conduct thorough identity checks of new customers. Before we enter into a customer relationship with corporate customers, we map matters such as the company’s tax affairs, corporate structure and ownership structure. We shall not facilitate tax planning processes that appear or are perceived by us to constitute tax evasion. The bank does not wish to finance companies with complicated ownership structures since this makes it difficult to trace the ownership and identity of beneficial owners. This includes our fund management activities. We look forward to the establishment of a public register that will ensure transparency regarding the ownership of Norwegian companies.
We have implemented systems and comply with procedures that are adapted to the applicable legislation. In the event that a customer acts in conflict with the purpose and nature of the customer relationship, we will terminate the relationship. The bank complies with the Money Laundering Act that entered into force on 1 July 2018. Based on the statutes that apply at all times, Sparebanken Vest runs a mandatory course in anti-money laundering and anti-corruption work for all the bank’s employees and its board of directors.
For more information about the work on Anti-Money Laundering and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, see our pages on investor relations.
The bank’s primary market area is the Western Norway region, where we are present in both towns and small communities. We care about business development in rural Norway, and through our services, we wish to support small and medium-sized enterprises that are important to local communities.
Our target group is sound enterprises in Western Norway with local roots, where the traditional relationship between local advice, short decision-making paths and a strong social commitment are key elements.
We would like the bank’s activities to help to make Western Norway a good place to live and grow up. Western Norway has unique advantages that enable its businesses to lead the field in meeting society’s increasing need for new technology and services. We will set the agenda, be a source of inspiration and help to ensure that industry, clusters and educational institutions succeed in realising the potential of the region.
In addition to a local presence and dedicated business advisers in close contact with customers, the bank also aims to have a national presence in digital concepts. Two new services targeting the national SME market were launched in 2018: Buffer and Folio.
Mix of industries
Our corporate customers comprise everything from sole proprietorships to listed companies. The majority of our customers are typical SME enterprises in Western Norway, and we have customers in most industries. The biggest sector measured in terms of capital is property, but we are also well represented in sectors typical for Western Norway, such as fisheries, fish farming, offshore and shipping. The bank has also established a clear position in relation to financing small power plants. The fact that the bank has a varied customer portfolio reduces the risk associated with individual sectors and ensures stability. An overview of the risk exposure associated with individual sectors is published every quarter, and is available here.
Work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important part of our global responsibility. Our region is particularly vulnerable to changes in the global climate, and given the high density of sectors that rely on our common marine resources, we recognise our responsibility to facilitate increased use of renewable resources and environmentally friendly operations. We currently provide services to customers who wish to deliver renewable energy or replace their own use of fossil fuels with renewable energy. Environmental risk shall, in any event, be included in the assessment of all projects and new corporate customers, including emission needs and procedures for handling waste.
The oil industry has been and is still one of the most important drivers of economic growth in Western Norway, and Sparebanken Vest therefore grants credit to companies that are subcontractors to the oil industry. Large-scale recovery of oil and gas will in all probability decrease in future, but is currently an important employer and contributor to the economy. The oil industry represents a small percentage (far less than 30%) of our total lending portfolio, and we have prepared our own criteria for mapping and assessing credit cases linked to this industry.
We do not wish to finance:
- Coal-fired power production
- Coal mining
- Extraction of oil from oil sand
- Extraction of shale gas
- Large-scale development of areas of peat or vegetation with a high CO2 content for agricultural purposes
- Production and maintenance of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical weapons, biological weapons, cluster bombs or landmines that target people.