Finland’s Different Business Perspectives

Angelica:

HELLO! As mentioned in the first blog, I made it to Finland before Zent could. I was able to visit the first business stop of our trip, Nordea Bank.

Nordea as a whole operates a “one bank model” and is the largest financial service group in the Nordics. They are a top-ten European retail bank and they use a cross-border branching structure, which supports group-level capital, liquidity and risk management. They have different branches under their main which include: Swedish branch, Danish branch, Norwegian branch, local finance companies, and local mortgage banks.

There is one major aspect about Nordea that stands out against an American bank. They focus more on risk-free profit whereas American banks are more concerned with making a profit even if there is a high risk. Due to this difference, when the financial crisis of 2008 hit, it affected many countries around the world, but Finland was not one of them. Nordea's portfolio has proven resilient over the financial crisis. Over the past decade, the actual loan loss ratios in both retail and corporate portfolios peaked in 2009. Historically, the Expected Loss Ratio has consistently exceeded realized loan losses, supporting the fact that Nordea's internal models have been sufficiently conservative. It is also important to add that the Nordic mortgage market depends on covered bond financing which has proved resilient in crisis. Credit risk on mortgages are held by both banks as well as bond holders, which provides strong incentives to keep credit risk low.

It was really interesting to see a different perspective on how a bank runs in a different country and it seems to be a success.

Nordea Bank

Zent:

The second place we visited was Altos university. The first speaker provided us with background info on the university along with the university's current rankings and global recognition.

The Second speaker focused on the differences in culture between his perceived interpretation of the American education system and that of Altos university. The discussion involved the attitudes toward successful people within the Finland area and how successful people were not thought highly of in this country whereas in America, we are known to celebrate success and encourage this type of behavior.

Altos University School of Business

The speaker went on to discuss the lack of marxism in the American education system and provided an implication that this was a problem. He argued that Capitalism was unfair and created large gaps in wealth. Also, he argued that technology was replacing skilled workers and this would create further problems.

While there was some truth to his arguments, I mainly found his argument to be non substantive and out of touch with the current state of affairs in the United States. While he was somewhat correct about the methodology in which we are taught at our universities, this information allows us to excel in a capitalist society. I believe his criticisms about the US were not warranted and in fact I found that he himself could benefit from the American style education system.

The third place we visited was Valio corporate headquarters. We were given a presentation by a digital marketing executive who discussed two challenges within the company and how they were addressed.

Angelica and Zent at Valio

The interesting thing about this visit is that it came directly after we had gone to the business presentation at Altos University. The attitudes of the marketing executive at Valio were counter to the ideology promoted by the speaker at the university. At Valio, we were shown how they had made data driven decisions to grow the company. This was interesting to see because it shows that Finland's business culture is very diverse. There seems to be a disconnect between some within the education system promoting marxist ideology and the private sector within Finland embracing capitalist attitudes.

Angelica & Zent:

Startup Sauna was our last stop before we head out of Finland. We arrived to the building and found it to be very trendy and spacious. We got to hear a little about what it is like to start a startup in Finland. We heard from the talk at the University that creating a start up was not very common and not highly suggested. It seems uncommon or not the norm in Finland, where in America many people want to be entrepreneurs and create startup businesses. In America 1 out of 10 startups are successful. This is is fairly low so it is understandable why Finland views do not seem to push toward this particular career path.

The building itself was pretty amazing. It was a giant warehouse and it had all the bells and whistles. In the vlog I (Angelica) went into these pods they had around the building. They are completely sound proof! I couldn't hear anyone outside the pod, and everyone outside the pod couldn't hear me. It was pretty amazing, I wish Chapman would look into some pods like this.

Outside of Startup Sauna with some new Finnish friends!

Overall, Finland was an amazing experience for the both of us. We got to see three different business viewpoints and learned a lot from each of these companies and the school. Now we are headed off to Estonia for more interesting visits!