Bank of Lithuania
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No 5

Business models of Scandinavian banks subsidiaries in the Baltics: identification and analysis

  • Abstract

    Since the crisis in the Baltic countries in 2009, the question on the particularities of business models adopted by foreign-owned banks has been often raised. The business models of these banks have changed significantly, but they still remain of major concern. The aim of this paper is to identify what type of business models have been chosen by the Baltic foreign-owned banks, to assess them as well as to provide recommendations on how to address the outlined challenges.
    The Literature Review showed that the Business Model Canvas approach can be used for bank business model analysis. However, banking specialness should be taken into account. Empirical research was carried out using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods for nine Scandinavian banks subsidiaries operating in the Baltics. The main focus of this research was the complex analysis of bank business model components, using the newly created system of key business model indicators. Business model analysis was based only on publicly available information, which is limited and not standardised.
    The main characteristics of the business model of Scandinavian banks subsidiaries established in the Baltics are as follows: retail banks operating in one jurisdiction, dependency on the parent bank decisions, aversion to risk, stronger focus on non-interest income and high efficiency due to cost cutting and e-banking, orientation on safety (banks meet prudential requirements with large reserves), and medium profitability with a negative trend for the future. It was determined that if banks keep on doing their business as they are currently, their possibilities of generating acceptable returns will be of major concern. The biggest opportunity for banks in a low interest rate environment is to focus on increasing the volume of interest bearing assets. Financing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially in productive sectors and innovative companies, could be the best outcome for banks and Lithuania’s economy. To achieve this goal, banks need to set SMEs financing as a strategic priority, make fundamental changes in their lending policy. The EU and local governments should give financial support for SMEs to strengthen this sector, and that should encourage banks to finance SMEs more actively as well.
    The analysis of bank business models is a relatively new approach towards banking industry analysis. This paper is the first attempt of deeper analysis of business models of Scandinavian banks subsidiaries operating in the Baltics. This paper can serve as an eye-opener for Financial Supervisory Authorities and Central Banks, Scandinavian banks when drafting strategies for their subsidiaries and Government representatives who are responsible for the banking system strategy and strengthening SMEs sector.

    JEL Codes: G21, M21.

    The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Bank of Lithuania.