Nordea, OP Financial Group, Danske Bank, Gjensidige, Swedbank, Tryg and DNB are all working on ambitious projects to develop and introduce higher levels of robot-automated customer services as they become more technology-focused to compete with emerging, non-traditional fintech (financial technology) competitors.
In the case of OP Financial Group, the Helsinki-based bank is looking to move all its standard branch services online by 2025. This could lead to the virtual disappearance of its branches from Finland’s high streets. Other Nordic banks and financial groups have similar plans.
But shifting most of their products online means Nordic banks might need to reduce their workforces by thousands.
Almost all of them are involved in advanced or preparatory talks with employee groups or unions in the financial sector.
Job cuts will hit employees in traditional high-street branches the hardest.
OP Financial’s restructuring plan, which is focused on technology, cost reduction and improved productivity, will affect more than 6,000 employees. It aims to reduce the scale of projected redundancies by retraining and relocating staff to newly created positions.
“Like many banks, we must face the reality of change,” said Timo Ritakallio, OP Financial’s CEO. “We need to transform in a way that best serves the needs of our customers. The wider use of digital and artificial intelligence technologies will cause some job functions to become extinct or change substantially. That said, changing to a more technology-rich environment will also create a significant number of new opportunities.”
The advent of robotic consulting services is also helping to drive change, with many banks, online security brokers and pension fund management companies turning to robot technology specialists for cost-efficient customer service and product delivery.