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  • Title
    Group CEO and President
  • Affiliation
    Svenska Handelsbanken
  • Country
    Sweden
  • 2020 Rank
    New

Akerstrom became Svenska Handelsbanken’s first-ever female chief executive in 2019—and its fourth CEO in as many years. Akerstrom, a 35-year company veteran and previously its deputy CEO, decided to address one problem that had plagued her many predecessors: the bank’s 380 branches and what to do with them. The physical locations were costly, but the bank had long argued that they were an important part of its DNA. Akerstrom decided in September 2020 to shutter half the branches and cut roughly 1,000 jobs to lower costs and further digitize operations. In the first half of 2021, the bank’s income increased 5% to $2.6 billion and its operating profit surged 14% to $1.3 billion. The bank also says it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, if not before, and it’s retraining its financial advisers to better serve female clients, with the goal of closing the gender wealth gap.

 

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