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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 result in the Bank’s instructions, which support work processes. Here we present our policies and guidelines, some as a whole and others as short abstracts.


Credit policy 

Credits may only be granted if there are good grounds for expecting the borrower to meet his/ her commitments. Credits must normally have satisfactory collateral. Handelsbanken strives to maintain its historically low level of loan losses compared to other banks, thus contributing to the Bank’s profitability target and retaining its sound position.

Financial policy  

The purpose of the Group’s funding and liquidity management is to ensure that Handelsbanken is able to meet its payment commitments in the short and long term. The Group’s funding must be well diversified in terms of markets, currencies and maturities. During stressed market conditions, 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.

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 

Handelsbanken must have a risk control function that is independent of the functions that are to be monitored. Risk control must be enforced regarding all material risks at Handelsbanken. The risk control function must verify that all major risks to which the Group is exposed, or may be exposed in the future, are identified and managed by the relevant functions, and also supervise and monitor 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. Control of regulatory risks and risks associated to financial crime are regulated in for such areas intended policies. Risk control is organised into both central and local risk control. Central risk control, called Group Risk Control, reports to the Group Chief Executive.

Policy for operational risk 

Handelsbanken’s tolerance of operational risk is very low. “Operational risk” refers to errors in internal processes, faulty systems or external events. Operational risk must be managed so that operational losses remain small, both in comparison with previous losses incurred and with other banks’ losses. The responsibility for operational risk is an integral part of managerial responsibility throughout the Group. 

Information policy 

Handelsbanken’s information must be correct, objective and easy to understand. It must respect the recipient of the information and be provided at the right time and in the right manner. The information will contribute to strengthening Handelsbanken’s brand and the trust of its customers, the capital markets and society in general. Information provided to the capital market must be correct, relevant, clear, reliable and in compliance with stock market regulations in all other respects. 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 participate at the same time.

Policy on Ethical standards 

Employees of Handelsbanken must conduct themselves in a manner that upholds confi- dence in Handelsbanken. All operations in the Group must be characterised by high ethical standards. Financial advice must be based on the customer’s requirements. Conflicts of interest must be identified and handled in a manner that is fair to all parties involved. 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 or religion. The policy on ethical standards also describes how employees who suspect internal fraud or other irregularities should act, for example with the aid of Handelsbanken’s whistleblowing system.

Sustainability policy 

Our sustainability policy sets the direction in terms of approach to material topics relating to customers, actions as an employer and institution in society, and also the relationship with owners and investors. We aim to integrate financial, social and environmental sustainability into all its business operations. 

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  (pdf)
Modern Slavery Act in the Handelsbanken UKOpens in a new window

Policy for managing conflicts of interest 

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 within the Bank to continuously identify potential conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest is identified, the head of the unit responsible must first 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 establishes the importance of preventing and never accepting corruption, and of always taking action where there is suspicion of corruption. 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, and must therefore not participate in actions that may involve bribery or any other improper influence.

Policy for group audit operations 

Group Audit is to evaluate the efficiency and appropriateness of the Group’s processes for risk management, internal steering 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. Group Audit reports directly to the Board; it provides reports for the Board and its audit committee, as well as for the CEO.

Policy for remuneration

The total remuneration is intended to contribute to the achievement of the Handelsbanken Group’s corporate goal, by attracting, retaining and developing skilled staff, and ensuring good management succession. Handelsbanken considers that fixed remuneration contributes to healthy operations. This is therefore the main principle, and variable remuneration is to be applied with great caution. The total variable remuneration paid out during one year must not exceed 0.4 per cent of the common equity tier 1 capital. Remuneration for work performed is set individually. Salaries are set locally in accordance with Handelsbanken’s decentralised work method and are based on salary-setting factors which are determined in advance. This policy does not affect the rights and obligations agreed upon by employers’ and employees’ organisations through collective agreements.

The Head of Group HR is responsible for applying the Group’s remuneration system. The control functions and their local units must identify, monitor, analyse and report material risks or deficiencies in the remuneration system. 

Pensions are part of the total remuneration to the Group’s employees. The total remuneration is to be on market terms. The pension terms in the countries where the Group pursues its operations must be competitive and adapted to legislation and regulations, in accordance with the conditions prevailing in each country.

Policy for managing and reporting events of material importance 

Incidents of material significance must be reported to the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority. This refers to incidents that may jeopardise the stability of the parent company or a subsidiary, or the protection of customers’ assets. 

Policy for the Bank's use of the external auditors' services 

If the auditors that have been elected at the AGM are engaged for assignments other than auditing, special instructions from the CEO must be complied with. Furthermore, this must be reported to the audit committee. This policy is adopted by the Board's audit committee on behalf of the Board.

Policy for compliance 

Compliance means the observance of laws, regulations, directives from public authorities and internal rules, as well as accepted business practices or accepted standards. Handelsbanken has a low tolerance of compliance risk. Using a risk-based approach, the compliance function is to support and verify compliance. It also analyses shortcomings and risks relating to compliance. Group Compliance reports directly to the CEO; it provides reports for him, as well as for the Board and its risk committee. The compliance function must be independent of the functions that are monitored.

Policy for complaints management 

The branch responsible for the customer is responsible for receiving and handling a customer complaint. Complaints must be dealt with promptly and professionally, in a dialogue with the customer, taking into consideration the current regulations in the area to which the complaint relates. 

Policy for employees’ transactions in financial instruments 

This policy applies to all Handelsbanken Group employees – temporary as well as permanent – closely-related persons and service providers. Its purpose is to prevent any person who is covered by the policy from carrying out his/her own transactions in financial instruments that involve market abuse, misuse or improper disclosure of confidential information under the regulations that apply to Handelsbanken and its employees, in accordance with prevailing legislation, directives from public authorities and voluntary agreements.

Accounting policy 

This policy applies to Handelsbanken’s accounting function. The consolidated accounts are 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 with the regulations that apply in the country where they are required to maintain accounting records. 

Policy on measures against financial crime 

This policy is partly based on Swedish laws and regulations concerning money laundering, terrorist financing, established international sanctions, including laws on breaches of such sanctions and applicable non-Swedish rules (including UK regulations against tax evasion) as well as Swedish laws and regulations regarding obligations to combat fraud, and it shall be applied throughout the Handelsbanken Group, to the extent that it does not contravene local laws. Money laundering, terrorist financing, breaches of international sanctions, fraud, tax evasion and corruption are collectively referred to as financial crime. The Handelsbanken Group has a separate policy for anti-corruption, whereas this policy relates to the other aspects of financial crime.

The Handelsbanken Group must appoint a specially appointed executive with the task of ensuring that the Handelsbanken Group takes the measures required by laws and regulations to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Handelsbanken Group must have an appointed officer for controlling and reporting obligations (under the Swedish Act on Measures against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing), whose task is to monitor and regularly verify that the Handelsbanken Group fulfils its obligations in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations.

Policy for products and services

This policy shall apply within all the Group’s business areas where decisions are taken regarding the manufacture or distribution of products, although this is subject to prevailing law and directives from public authorities, either within Sweden or in the other countries where the Handelsbanken Group pursues its operations. 

All products offered to customers of the Bank and its subsidiaries must bear the hallmark of Handelsbanken’s low risk tolerance.


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

Policies for shareholder engagement and responsible investments 

The policies for responsible investment are based on international standards covering areas such as the environment, human rights, working conditions, anti-corruption and controversial weapons.

Policy for shareholder engagement and responsible investments at Handelsbanken Fonder (pdf) (pdf) 

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.

Policy for responsible investments (pdf)Opens in a new window 
Policy for sustainability (pdf)Opens in a new window