Sweden is the latest European country making a push to win financial services power after Brexit, having sent a minister to London to woo fintech firms and a major Wall Street bank.
Per Bolund, the country’s financial markets minister, visited fintech incubator Level 39 in Canary Wharf on Friday before hosting more than a dozen more startups at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Marylebone for lunch.
City A.M. can also reveal that Bolund met executives from Citigroup, including the bank’s UK boss James Bardrick, on a one-day visit to the UK capital. Citi is understood to be weighing up its options for moving part of its business away from the UK in a move prompted by the Brexit vote.
“[We had] a lot of discussions about the Brexit and what will happen,” Bolund told City A.M. “They were very, very interested in finding solutions, and also of course quite concerned about the situation and the insecurity at the moment and not getting access to information and really knowing where the process will end.”
Bolund, whose official title is minister for financial markets and consumer affairs and deputy minister for finance, added: “I see Sweden as an extremely good place to do business and we have a very strong banking sector. And we are at the forefront when it comes to technological developments. Sweden is rapidly becoming a digitalised economy.”
Asked what general message he was receiving from fintech companies, Bolund said: “They’re all concerned about the lack of knowledge about where the Brexit process will end up, and what will be the final development. So that obviously is a cause for concern.”
He added that there were also concerns around London being a popular, and therefore expensive, city for companies to be based in.
Sweden will be competing with the likes of Ireland, Denmark and Luxembourg as it bids to lure fintech firms after Brexit.
Although he acknowledged that Sweden can find benefits in Brexit, Bolund also insisted that he and the country would have preferred a Remain vote. He also suggested the UK could find an ally in Sweden as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50.
“I know that there is a sense of wanting to be harsh in some countries around Europe,” Bolund said. “Sweden is not one of those countries. We find that everyone benefits if we can have a good process and both parties come out as winners.”