As the need to innovate becomes more pressing, banks have become increasingly collaborative. This new era of cooperation sees lenders striking up new partnerships with the full range of market participants including clients, fintechs and employees – to pursue their digitisation and innovation agendas.

Danielle Myles, investment banking editor of The Banker, speaks with Nordea’s Ewan MacLeod, Chief Digital Officer, Nordea and Jonas Lundin, Business Developer, IF P&C Insurance to discuss the digital transformation of banks and large customers and the reasons for adopting a partnership philosophy.

The Banker Viewpoint Series is sponsored by Nordea but independently edited.

Partnership or ecosystem mindset

Financial institutions must take a more outward-looking approach as they digitally transform by partnering with other banks, clients and fintechs, says Ewan MacLeod.

Recognising that “great ideas” can exist outside of the bank’s environment has been an important lesson for the Scandinavian bank during the past few years. “We have to ask how we can bring those ideas into the bank; how we can partner with the developers of those ideas; how we can reach out to that ecosystem and ensure we can benefit and how our customers can benefit,” MacLeod says.

As technology advances and changes the way clients consume financial products, financial institutions must adopt a partnership, or ecosystem mindset, he says. Otherwise, they risk being unable to meet client expectations.

To avoid this risk, banks must “run hard”, investing, testing and learning in order to counter the challenge coming from technology giants, start-ups and other non-traditional players.

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Partnership approach

Banks can no longer make assumptions about the products and services customers will want, says MacLeod. Rather, banks must engage with customers more, finding out what their problems are and how they want a bank to help them. “We are borrowing from the tech giants, who have a relentless approach on testing, learning and evaluating really quickly,” he says. “We have integrated that thinking into how we approach the ecosystem here at Nordea. Running fast, testing, learning and then iterating it and delivering the best to the customer.”

A partnership approach can help bring new perspectives and ideas to the parties involved, says Jonas Lundin, a business developer at IF P&C Insurance. As a client of Nordea, it has worked with the bank on digital transformation projects. “An external partner can provide industry expertise that we don’t have,” says Lundin.

The insurer worked with Nordea on a series of ‘sprints’, which helped it to develop and test a solution within just one week. Lundin says the two organisations face many of the same challenges when it comes to digitalisation and changing consumer behaviour, but each have a different perspective, which can help to build knowledge and skills sets.

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This story and accompanying videos originally appeared in The Banker.

For more information on co-innovation at Nordea write to txbmarketengagement@nordea.com.

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