The market units can look back on 2016 as a good year. What was the decisive factor in this success?

Torsten Temp:  We are now characterised by the fact that we provide excellent team service and have a strong will to sell – even under demanding conditions. In 2016, the leadership within the sales department changed and I am now the sole person responsible. And there was the final EU decision in the state aid proceedings, after which we began preparations for the selling process. For the Bank the change in ownership is an opportunity. From a pure sales perspective, however, such changes are usually not an ideal starting point. Nevertheless, we not only achieved, but even exceeded the results we targeted for 2016. And new business worth about €8.9 billion is a strong performance. Our good results are especially gratifying because we had a weak start to 2016. I enjoyed following the catch-up charge. All in all, you are looking at a satisfied head of sales – something you don’t see very often.


What do companies today expect from their bank?

Torsten Temp:  The most important issues are speed, competence in the structuring of a loan and reliability. Clients take a good product selection as a given. Our aim is to provide our clients with something akin to a one-stop shop.


Are you succeeding?

Torsten Temp:  I think so, otherwise we would not have gained more than one hundred new clients in the Corporate Clients business area alone. Our clients are rewarding our good performance – this is the feedback we are receiving in conversations. It is also demonstrated by our client surveys.


Interest rates are low at the moment, while commodity prices and currencies are fluctuating considerably. How important is it to help clients minimise uncertainty factors?

Torsten Temp:  For years we have successfully been working to improve the interplay between client relation­ship managers and product specialists from the capital market. As a result, our clients can hedge interest rates and currencies straightforwardly for their benefit – and we improve our cross-selling ratio.


Many banks have recently discovered the German SME sector for themselves. What does this mean for HSH Nordbank?

Torsten Temp:  The German SME sector has been highly competitive among banks for decades, so this in principle is nothing new. But in the past two years a few non-German banks have joined the fray, quite aggressively, because their home markets tend to still be rather affected by the crisis.


Does tougher competition mean that banks are prepared to accept greater risks in order to get a look-in?

Torsten Temp:  In some areas that is certainly what we are seeing. But we do not do unreasonable business. We apply clear, strict risk standards. And we stick to them. Over the long term this is the right strategy.