We are in contact with hundreds of people in our region every day, and every day we are impressed by the commitment of the People living here. The ability to innovate has always formed an integral part of our culture and it is an important driving force in good times and in bad.
A desire to develop Nordvestlandet
As the largest bank in Nordvestlandet, we have the clout to contribute to this culture of creativity, and thereby also value creation in our region. This presents us with opportunities that we take very seriously. In 2019, we adopted a new vision that will guide the Bank’s strategy in the coming years: Sparebanken Møre shall be the leading contributor to creative enthusiasm in Nordvestlandet. Every day.
Our vision obliges us to encourage increased business growth, innovation and entrepreneurial zeal. We must help ensuring that people can create a home and a future here with healthy finances. We must facilitate prosperity, inward migration and quality of life, and we must cultivate solidarity and collaborations that have positive ripple effects for our region.
Dialogue with our stakeholders
Meanwhile, a number of things must be in place if we are to bring our vision to fruition. It is vital that the Bank has a sound financial foundation. That is why it is pleasing to be able to present another strong annual result based on profitability, efficiency and financial strength. This creates security and opportunities for both communities and the people who live here.
Value creation also depends on knowledge, partnership and development. These are areas we are constantly addressing, both in the Bank and in our communities. In the past year, we have been a driving force behind, and a participant in, a number of forums in which relationships have been strengthened and ideas created. We have shared our knowledge, at the same time as we have obtained useful and important new input from our surroundings. For a bank that makes a living from being an adviser, driving force and supporter, it is crucial to listen to the feedback of those for whom we are here.
We received good confirmation that we are developing in the right direction when we achieved a record score in our annual service quality survey for 2019. Sparebanken Møre’s measured customer satisfaction has never been higher among either retail customers or corporate customers. In addition to this, the Bank’s customer service came out on top in a ranking of the country’s best customer service in the banking category.
An active year
Confirmation that the steps we are taking to create good customer experiences and equip the Bank for the future are producing results is a great motivator. 2019 was an active year in this respect. We carried out a number of projects that really showed the clout that the expert environment and culture we call "Team Møre" has.
There is not enough room to list everything, but examples include new digital solutions, user friendly services and measures that have made everyday banking simpler for our customers. We also specifically reinforced our services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and are now seeing the effects of this through increased growth in this customer segment. When the analysis company, Cicero, recently named the best website for SMEs, Sparebanken Møre walked away victorious.
We improved our card services with a credit card from Mastercard and we also launched a new, future-oriented visual profile. I think we have successfully managed to preserve our long, proud history while updating our profile and ensuring it is suitable for digital customer channels. Not least, throughout the year we were a substantial professional and financial contributor to initiatives that promote the development of a sustainable region.
In 2019, we entered into a partnership with the regional cluster network NCE iKuben, which aims to help companies in the areas of innovation, converting to new technology and sustainability. We were also a partner when Ålesund Municipality signed a letter of intent with the UN to establish a centre for sustainable urban development – the second one in the world.
In addition to this, we contributed to teaching school children about economics and to research into marine resources, while stimulating entrepreneurship and innovation through the NÆRINGSTEFT [‘Nose for Business’] skills journey. The fact that more than 80 entrepreneurs signed up with their ideas when the concept was organised for the third year in a row, is indisputable confirmation of the innovative power you can find in our region.
Both Norway and the world community urgently need to restructure in the next few years in order to achieve the climate targets for 2030. As a regional savings bank, we have the power to influence, both through the projects we get involved in as well as through our everyday banking activities. We will do our bit for our shared future, and in 2019 we integrated sustainability into the Bank’s overarching strategy for the next few years. We also committed ourselves to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking and will continue this work at full force in 2020 as well – both in the Bank and in our environment.
The Bank’s updated analysis of its future prospects show moderate production growth in the county in the coming period. This is due to low interest rates, a weak Norwegian kroner and growth in our export markets. We anticipate continued good activity levels in all of our main industries and unemployment will probably remain low this year as well.
I look forward to continuing to develop the Bank in 2020. We believe in our model and we believe in our region. Our banking industry holds the solutions of the future, but we must be able to identify and manage them in the best possible manner. A strong professional environment characterised by knowledge sharing, partnership and development is required – and we have that in Sparebanken Møre. Given that we also have a flexible and forward-leaning local business sector, there is reason to be optimistic about the future.
Nordvestlandet has assets that create assets and that is what will drive us forward. Every single day.
Trond Lars Nydal