Published 05. Jul. 2016

A Digital Big Bang Changes OP Financial Group to a Service Company

Digital Business

by Markku Rimpiläinen


4,3 million customers, EBIT of 1,1 billion, CET1 ratio 19,5% in 2015.

Many banks would be very ecstatic in this situation and probably continue on the same path. The Finnish OP Financial Group decided to take a passing lane. The company is going to transform its entire business to a multi-industry service organization.

The Arrival of International Competitors

What is the reason for such a radical reformation? Masa Peura, Director of New Business at OP Financial Group, states that the new course of strategy is very logical.

“I strongly believe that the financial services sector will be highly diversified in the near future. International competition and new entrants will rummage the market and renew the industry from how we used to know it.”

Peura predicts that the new industry entrants invest bravely in digitalization, innovation, and new services. This will cause a heavy wave of disruption that will sweep through the whole sector.

To stay relevant in the new competitive environment, also the established and successful organizations have to change. OP Financial Group is taking a big leap by investing 2 billion euros in digitalization during the next five years.

“The organizations in the financial sector still have the chance to jump onto the change wagon but the time is running out. The grand decisions need to be done before the situation is impossible to overcome.”

“We need to learn from the new industry players and, simultaneously, challenge the big international competitors on their strongest capabilities, such as customer and user experience. It is inevitable that the change requires significant investments”, Peura clarifies.

Five Hospitals and a Health Center Network

The first step in OP Financial Group’s new strategy is its bold expansion to health and welfare services, starting with five hospitals and a nation-wide health center network by 2019.

“In the core of the new strategy are all the branches that fit together with our current business operations. Healthcare has an obvious link to our insurance business. Our objective is to cure and maintain people’s health and working ability by combining efficiency, expertise, and care.”

Peura reveals that engaging with the important moments of people’s everyday lives is an important criterion when OP Financial Group discusses new strategic business steps.

“The idea for expanding the company to a service business initiated from the want to have a partnering role in people’s varying life situations. We, for example, pondered possibilities for facilitating our customers’ lives with intelligent technology solutions.”

New Services in a Startup Environment

Enhancing customer experience through digital is also at the core of the new strategy. Digitizing only the existing services is not enough – new services are critical.

“During the past months we have, for example, launched applications for contactless payment and a cash register service for small and medium enterprises, and we keep developing new services constantly.”

“Even though the new service channels are digital, our customers will face renewed things at our offices, too. In the digitalizing world the winners will be the players who are able to create a superior customer experience by combining the best of online and offline environments.”

At OP, new services are being developed in expert teams applying agile and experimental work methods.

“Our challenge is to create new, entrepreneurial culture – experiment culture is not very characteristic in the traditional bank industry”, Peura reminds.

“We have established hubs that are working very startup-like and creating new culture. Our mobile development unit in Oulu is already implementing a very lean operating model. At the Helsinki hub the independent teams are developing our new business further. The people working in these projects are cooperating and learning from each other and improving their own knowledge. This way the projects are growing, just like startup companies.”

Currently OP Financial Group’s development projects employ more than 600 people. By the end of the year they still plan to recruit more than 100 digitalization experts to push the company towards its new goals.

The innovative organization culture has attracted new, promising talent with different, valuable capabilities to the organization.

“Good people are motivated by interesting work and inspiring co-workers. People that have shown interest towards us include, for example, entrepreneurs that have already sold their company but are looking for new, interesting challenges that seem meaningful to them”, Peura concludes.

Masa Peura, Director of New Business at OP Financial Group is going to be a keynote speaker at our Digital Business and Services event on September 8th 2016 in Finland. For more on our upcoming events, visit the Event Calendar»