We spoke to the Head of Banking Marketing & Communication at Nordea, the largest financial group in the Nordic countries, to talk about all things brand and marketing and what the Skills of Tomorrow look like
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1. Please tell me a bit about your role and your key responsibilities 

I am the Head of Banking Marketing and Communications. We are going through this change now to be closer to the markets and actually impact the market and to be more visible and clear on our value propositions and communications and positioning.


2. Have your businesses priorities changed due to Covid?

For the business, our ways of working have changed a lot.

We are a bank and customers have been used to going and visiting their local bank, but now we see that through digital channels we have been able to help more of our customers because we get more efficient in our everyday work.

And so we have changed our offerings, and we see that things like Teams meetings with our customers have been a great success and something that they really appreciate, it's more convenient. You can bank while you're at work and you don't have to leave. So absolutely, something good came out of it. To handle all of our customers digitally is more cost-efficient, so the timing was pretty good to force the market to become more digital as well.


3. What are the main challenges for your business if you look at the next 12-24 months?

Since we're a financial institution, we see that the market is quite divided.

You have people that have had a really good year economically, they have kept their jobs and interest rates have been very low. There are a lot of our customers who have made their dreams come true this year by buying their cabins or extra houses, first apartments, and so on.

And then, of course, a lot of branches that are in a very difficult situation, with a lot of layoffs among customers, and a lot of people who have lost their jobs. With the need for people to pause their repayments.

So, we see that it's been a divided year, and we also see that will be the case for the next year too.

4. Specifically, what are the main challenges in regards to people/talent?

Internally we need to look after younger and newer employees more because they have been working remotely for some time and they may be living alone. Or not integrated or included in the company yet, so of course, that is like a risk factor. We need to make sure that people are doing well and that we see them and that we can take care of them.


5. How are you dealing with this? What’s your plan? 

We have been forced to conduct our onboarding digitally and make sure that new starters have a plan. But, also conduct more social activities, even through Teams, as well as more mental training and mental coaching, and some humour. With more meetups after work, or during breakfast. Essentially, more attention. We've been doing our best to make sure that they feel seen and part of the team.


If you look at your organisation’s capabilities and the skills of the employees

6. What are the main strengths?

We have just become a new Marketing Team, and we're collaborating with three business areas that have never worked with each other before.So now I just really need to understand what kind of competencies they have and what kind of competencies we need.

It is still early days, and I haven't been able to set the strategy yet, but what I've seen so far is that we have a lot of people, especially when working in a bank, who have been around for a long time. They don't leave, they stay.

So I have a lot of people who have been working here for 10, 15, 20 years, and they have a lot of knowledge regarding the bank and our products and services and history.

What I see is that I have quite a lot of project leaders or project coordinators, but not many with super-deep skills within marketing. It's much more traditional, than perhaps with more forward-thinking people. So, I'm challenging all of them now to think about their competence: what do you want to do more of, do you see partnerships as core to what we do? Do we aim to think from the outside in, and not from the inside out? Especially being more customer-centric instead of a company where all you do is push our company's vision and products, and the market is not that interested.

So that is something that we work on very closely with several parts of the organisation, and we have high ambitions regarding customer satisfaction. We are moving from a more sales-oriented organisation to a more customer-centric organisation.

7. Where are the main weaknesses or opportunities for improvement? Has this changed based on Covid?

I think, especially in this sector, we're a little bit generic. That’s my view coming from outside of this industry and having no experience whatsoever in Finance or Banking. But, that is a strength, because I have other perspectives. I have other experiences and can use this outside perspective. Colleagues don't get offended if I sit in the meeting now and see things almost as a customer, as an outsider, for example when I think of the brand I think big, blue, boring, not distinctive, we don’t stand out. So we need to decide what kind of position that we want to have and focus on that position. 

8. And when you look at the next 2-3 years, which skills do you think are most important?

People working with technology of course. Then, data insights, we need to be data insight-driven and work with data analytics. And I would also say, more creativity. To be able to understand the customer journeys and to see potential ecosystems, and go and find partnerships that can be beneficial for our company or our products and services. Improving customer journeys, not just thinking like a bank, but seeing the system as a whole.


9. Where do you see the biggest gaps between ambition and reality of skillsets? 

The transformation that we're going through now is about telling the story and people believing in that story, and adjusting to the new future and the new mindset needed. People like to work as they used to do. And that's how we humans are. In so far as I think that the culture part is very important. How we invest in our people and make sure that we develop our people and make sure that we all go in the same direction.

One thing I believe in very strongly, and this comes from my time working for SAS where we were around 13,000 people and very divided across the organisation, is that the one thing that unified people and made us connected was the love for the brand and the story we told of where we were going.

We worked a lot with internal engagement, with really good results. To onboard the employees and have them know what kind of journey we're taking, and the future story, and the steps that we're taking to have them involved in that, made a very big impact. This is where vision, ambition and reality can come together really well.


10. How do you assess the skills of your team?

More from personal judgement. Not aware of any specific measurement tools, although these may be used in different departments.