Policy documents and guidelines

Here we present our policies and guidelines, some in whole and other in short abstracts.
international bank

Framework for governance

The Board issues policies as part of its governance of the Bank. These policies are revised every year, but can be adjusted more often when necessary. The Group Chief Executive issues guidelines and more detailed directions, which in turn supplement and clarify these policies. These together with certain frameworks result in the Bank’s instructions, which support work processes. Here we present our policies, guidelines and frameworks, some as a whole and others as short abstracts.


Policy on governance and steering documents

The purpose of the policy is to clarify the basic foundations of the Handelsbanken Group’s corporate governance. The policy addresses the overall organisational structure, illustrating its goals and corporate culture, as well as the steering documents and forms of responsibility that constitute the basis for governance within the Group. The policy also illustrates the basic foundations for risk management and the follow-up of risks.

Credit policy 

The credit policy describes the Bank’s risk tolerance and risk strategy for credit risk, as well as how such risks are to be followed up. Handelsbanken has a low tolerance of credit risks and strives to maintain its historically low level of credit losses compared to other banks.

Financial policy  

Through this policy, the Board establishes the framework for financial operations in Handelsbanken. This includes the general establishment of measurement methods for financial risks. ‘Financial risks’ here refers to market risks and liquidity risks. Market risks are in turn divided into interest rate risks, equity price risks, foreign exchange risks and commodity price risks.

Financial risks shall only occur as a natural part of customer business, in connection with Handelsbanken’s funding and liquidity management, and in its role as a market maker. The purpose of the Group’s funding and liquidity management is to ensure that Handelsbanken is able to meet its payment obligations in the short and long term. The Group’s funding must be well diversified in terms of markets, currencies and maturities. Handelsbanken must have an adequate liquidity reserve to be able to continue its operations for predetermined periods of time, without new funding in the financial markets. This requirement must also be fulfilled in times of financial strain. 

Capital policy 

The purpose of the capital policy is to ensure that the Group’s supply of capital is satisfactory. The Group must at all times be well capitalised in relation to risk, and fulfil the goals established by the Board and the capital adequacy requirements established by supervisory authorities, even in situations of financial stress. Handelsbanken’s capital situation must also justify a continued high rating from the most important rating agencies.

Policy for risk control 

The policy for risk control presents basic principles for the Bank’s independent risk control function. The risk control function must verify that all material risks to which the Group is exposed, or may be exposed in the future, are identified and managed by the relevant functions, and must also supervise and monitor the Group’s risk management. In addition, the function must identify risks arising as a result of deficiencies in the Group’s risk management. The risk control function must also verify that every business unit monitors all its material risks in an efficient manner. 

Policy for operational risk 

The policy for operational risk describes the Bank’s tolerance of operational risks and provides comprehensive guidance on the management of such risks. Operational risk refers to the risk of loss due to inadequate or failed internal processes, human error, erroneous systems or external events. Legal risks, as well as IT risks and information security risks, are also included. Handelsbanken has a low tolerance of operational risks and, as far as possible, must endeavour to prevent these risks and to reduce the losses in this area. 

Communication policy 

The policy states that Handelsbanken’s communication must be correct, factual, clear and comprehensible, and be characterised by transparency, accessibility and speed. It must also contribute to strengthening Handelsbanken’s brand and the trust of its customers, other market actors and society in general. External communication to the financial markets and other external recipients must be relevant, reliable, correct, clear, up to date and otherwise in line with the rules of the stock exchange and other applicable regulations. Information is to be made public as soon as possible and simultaneously to the stock market, investors, analysts, news services and other media. At press conferences and the like, the media and analysts should normally be given the opportunity to obtain information at the same time.

Policy on Ethical standards 

The policy stipulates that employees of Handelsbanken must conduct themselves in a manner that upholds confidence in Handelsbanken. All operations in the Group must be characterised by high ethical standards. Financial advice must be based on the customer’s requirements. In case of doubt as to what is ethically acceptable, the matter must be discussed with the employee’s immediate superior. There must be no discrimination on grounds such as gender, religion, ethnic background or any other basis. The policy on ethical standards also describes how employees and other stakeholders who suspect fraud or other irregularities should act. Handelsbanken has an established whistleblower system, through which reports may be submitted anonymously.

Policy for sustainability

The policy establishes the strategy for Handelsbanken’s sustainability work with regard to the Bank’s relationships with customers, actions as an employer and social actor, and relationships with owners and investors. The Bank aims to integrate financial, social and environmental sustainability into all its operations, which means that the Group is to run financially sound, sustainable operations. This entails safeguarding human rights and employees’ rights, and not being complicit in breaches of these. Gender equality, diversity and an inclusive corporate culture should be a part of Handelsbanken’s fundamental values. Handelsbanken endeavours to minimise negative impact on the environment, and to increase positive impact. In its operations and in accordance with the Group’s sustainability goals, the Bank shall actively push for a greenhouse gas-neutral economy, in line with the Paris Agreement and the 1.5°C target. Handelsbanken does not accept corruption, money laundering or terrorist financing, and conflicts of interest must be managed.

In addition, Handelsbanken provides reports on its work against modern slavery and human trafficking pursuant to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act.  More information and a statement may be found on the website of Handelsbanken plc.

Sustainability policy at Handelsbanken Group (pdf) Opens in a new window
Modern Slavery Act at Handelsbanken plc (UK) Opens in a new window

Policy for managing conflicts of interest 

The policy aims to ensure that conflicts of interest are managed correctly at the Bank. Conflicts of interest are a natural part of a business operation, which means that these types of conflicts may arise within the Group’s operations. It is the responsibility of all heads of units to continuously identify potential conflicts of interest in their operations. If a conflict of interest relative to a customer is identified, the first priority is for the manager responsible to ensure that the customer’s interests are not adversely affected. If this is not possible, the customer must be informed of the conflict of interest.

Policy against corruption  

The policy against corruption establishes the importance of preventing and never accepting corruption, and of always taking action where there is suspicion of corruption. Corruption encompasses actions such as the giving and taking of bribes, breach of trust, and abusing one’s position to achieve an improper advantage for personal gain or another person’s benefit.

Employees of the Group must carry out their responsibilities in all their activities at the Group and their external assignments in a manner that upholds confidence in Handelsbanken. They must not, therefore, participate in actions that may involve bribery or any other improper influence. The same applies to all representatives of Handelsbanken.

Policy for group audit

The policy stipulates that Group Audit must evaluate the efficiency and appropriateness of the Group’s processes for risk management, internal governance and control. The Audit function must impartially and independently examine the Group’s operations, accounts and governance process, ensure that material risks are identified and managed in a satisfactory manner, and ensure that material financial information is reliable, correct and delivered on time.

Policy for remuneration

The policy stipulates that Handelsbanken’s remuneration system must be fit-for-purpose and consistent with the Bank’s business objectives and business culture, which are based on sound, sustainable operations, in which employees observe high ethical standards, and good administrative order and regulatory compliance. Remuneration must also be structured in a manner that promotes a healthy and efficient management of sustainability risks. Handelsbanken takes a long-term view of its staff’s employment. Remuneration must be on market terms, enabling Handelsbanken to attract, recruit, retain and develop skilled staff, and ensuring good management succession, thus contributing to the achievement of the Handelsbanken Group’s corporate goal.

Handelsbanken has a low risk tolerance in general. This is reflected in the company’s view of remuneration. Handelsbanken considers that fixed remuneration contributes to healthy operations. This is therefore the main principle. Fixed remuneration is comprised primarily of a basic salary, customary employee benefits and pension.

Provisions for the Oktogonen collective profit-sharing scheme are classified as variable remuneration. Provisions are based on profitability metrics linked to Handelsbanken’s corporate goals being met and the Board’s overall assessment regarding the Bank’s performance. 

Performance-based variable remuneration must be applied with great caution and is not offered to employees who, in their professional roles, can have a material impact on the Bank’s risk profile. 

In certain countries, Handelsbanken is party to collective bargaining agreements on general terms and conditions of employment and conditions for pensions. This policy does not affect rights and obligations under collective bargaining agreements; nor does it affect obligations under applicable contract law or labour law.

Group HR is responsible for verifying that remuneration in Handelsbanken is compliant with external and internal rules. The independent control functions monitor and analyse the remuneration system and report material risks and flaws to the Board’s remuneration and risk committees.

Policies for suitability assessment

These two policies (one for Board members and the CEO, one for other officers) include general criteria for the suitability assessments required in advance of the appointment of members to Boards, as well as appointments to the positions of CEO, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, other positions in executive management, Country General Managers, heads of control functions and other executive officers at the Bank and the Bank’s subsidiaries. 

Policy for managing and reporting events of material importance 

According to the policy, events of material significance must be reported to the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority. This refers to events that may jeopardise the stability of the Bank or a subsidiary, or the protection of customers’ assets.

Policy for the Bank's use of external auditors

The policy establishes that engaging the Bank’s elected auditors for services other than auditing should be avoided when this can be done without inconvenience. A decision on this must be made by the Chief Audit Executive or, in the case of more extensive assignments, by the Board’s audit committee. The policy is adopted by the Board’s audit committee on behalf of the Board.

Policy for compliance 

The policy establishes the principles for compliance applicable in the Group, and describes the duties of Group Compliance. Compliance refers to the observation of and compliance with external and internal rules and regulations, accepted market practice and standards that are together applicable to the Bank’s licensed operations. Handelsbanken has a low tolerance of compliance risks. Group Compliance is to adopt a risk-based way of working to support and verify regulatory compliance and analyse deficiencies and risks relating to compliance. 

Policy for complaints management 

The policy states that all customer complaints must be dealt with promptly, while considering all rules relevant to the subject of the complaint. Complaints must be taken very seriously and regarded as an opportunity to correct a mistake or misunderstanding. The aim of the Bank’s complaints management is that the person making the complaint must be very satisfied with the Bank’s handling of it.

Policy for employees’ transactions in financial instruments 

This policy serves as guidance for transactions in financial instruments executed by employees and contractors (other than Board members) in the Handelsbanken Group. The policy applies regardless of whether the transactions are undertaken for the individual’s own account, or that of a closely related person, a customer or for the Bank. Any person who is covered by this policy is prohibited from carrying out transactions in financial instruments – or causing any other person, through advice or request, to carry out such transactions – that involve market abuse, or misuse or improper disclosure of confidential information. 

Accounting policy 

The accounting policy is applied by Handelsbanken’s accounting function. The policy states that the consolidated accounts are to be prepared in accordance with IFRS, as adopted by the EU, plus additional standards in accordance with the Swedish Annual Accounts Act for Credit Institutions and Securities Companies, and the regulations and general guidelines issued by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority. The parent company’s annual report is prepared in accordance with the Swedish Annual Accounts Act for Credit Institutions and Securities Companies, and the regulations and general guidelines issued by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority. International units must prepare accounts in accordance not only with the Group’s rules, but also with the regulations that apply in the country where they are required to maintain accounting records.

Policy on measures against financial crime 

The policy on measures against financial crime is based on applicable regulatory frameworks concerning money laundering, terrorist financing, effective international sanctions and rules regarding violations of such sanctions, as well as obligations relating to the prevention of fraud. The policy also addresses the low risk tolerance, as set by the Board, in the aforementioned areas. Handelsbanken must not participate in transactions of which the employees do not understand the implications, or which may be suspected of being linked to criminal activities. The Group’s work method is based on having a good knowledge of its customers, and an understanding of its customers’ business operations, as well as the purpose and nature of the business relationship. Customer due diligence must be performed and maintained for as long as the customer relationship exists. Handelsbanken must also monitor and follow decisions on sanctions.

Policy for products and services

According to the policy, the Handelsbanken Group’s range of products must maintain a high level of quality. This means that the products’ function, and their associated costs and risks, must meet customers’ needs, characteristics and goals, as well as being presented in such a way that customers are able to make well-founded decisions. A decision-making procedure must be in place for the approval of new and materially changed products. Before a product is rolled out, it must be subject to product testing, and no new or materially changed product may be rolled out until the resources are in place to manage the risks associated with the product. The products must have established target markets and the strategy for distribution of products must be appropriate in relation to the target market. Procedures must exist for monitoring the product, to ensure that it remains suitable for the established target market. 


The policy documents below have been decided on by the boards of Handelsbanken's subsidiaries.

Handelsbanken Fonder's policy documents and guidelines  

Read about the Fund Management Company’s policies, guidelines and other documents.

Follow our work Opens in a new window

Handelsbanken Liv's policy for sustainability and responsible investments

Handelsbanken Liv has adopted a policy to establish the focus of its sustainability work. It concerns Handelsbanken Liv's relationship with owners and investors. 

Handelsbanken Liv - policy for sustainability (in Swedish) (pdf) Opens in a new window

Handelsbanken Liv - policy for responsible investments (in Swedish) (pdf) Opens in a new window 

Policy for sustainability at Stadshypotek

Read about the basic principles for sustainability work at Stadshypotek AB, how the work is followed up and reported. 

Policy for sustainability at Stadshypotek (pdf) Opens in a new window

Whistleblowing – report irregularities

It is important for us to counteract risks and maintain confidence in our business operations. That is why we encourage our employees and other stakeholders to report suspected irregularities and unacceptable conditions. Report via our whistleblower system managed by WhistleB. All cases are treated confidentially and you can choose to report anonymously.