Nordic banks were world leads in the first round of digitalization, and this happened before the word even existed. Will Nordic banks hold this position also in the next wave of digitalization? As technology is developing ever faster, the Nordic financial markets become particularly interesting to look at.

In many ways, the products Nordic banks offer today have a relatively high level of digital maturity. This leads to a somewhat worrying situation as there is no immediate need for Nordic banks to go through a major digital revolution. Rather, banks seem to be focusing on doing “more of the same” in the years to come. 

For a number of reasons, disruption to the industry did not happen in the way forecasted some five to ten years ago. A conservative, highly regulated and systemically important business cannot be easily disrupted. The likely areas for possible disruption are simple: high-volume operations that are easy to automate, such as payments services or noncollateralized lending. In the meantime, Nordic banks have little intention to give up owning and serving the complete end-to-end value chain. If a major disruption occurred, it would take the industry by surprise.

About the report

BearingPoint's 'Nordic Banking 2033 – And how to get there' report interviewed 30 senior leaders, board members, analysts, regulators and fintech experts working in the banking, asset management and insurance sectors. The interviews were conducted in all Nordic countries except Iceland. The report was carried out by BearingPoint Finland.

While forward visibility is low and the focus is on doing more of the same, there are a handful of issues banks should address to be future proof, whatever the future holds.

Our advice

Get your data and processes in order. The ability to utilize new technological avenues, and to become truly data driven, requires fit-for-purpose data architecture and efficient processes. Banks have a lot to do in this field and generally, banks face multi-year improvement programs to reach a sufficient level for the future.

Re-think IT. Banks need to develop a workforce that combines knowledge in both business and technology in the same individuals. IT is not a support function – it should be thought of as a core business.

Incentivize management to do more than the same. If a bank chooses shortterm wins over long-term transformation and investment, we fear the bank will find itself in a very challenging position on a 5-10-year horizon.

Dare to go greenfield. Banks must dare to challenge the status quo and go greenfield, i.e., design processes and build supporting technologies from the ground up, rather than slowly improve old systems and processes.

Be ESG ready. Whether ESG brings new business or merely just re-distributes existing business, not being ESG-ready is a major risk. However, this is a major investment.

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  • Nordic Banking 2033 – And how to get there
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