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More perspectives result in better solutions

Greater openness, a more inquisitive mindset and a broader composition of teams have created a more inclusive culture at Private Banking

12. Dec 2022
5 min
English / Dansk

Sanne Fredenslund has been Head of Private Banking DK for two years. It’s been two years with major organisational changes, a partially new management team and more responsibility delegated to the organisation.

“It’s important to underline that I took over a super strong organisation with satisfied customers. But in some contexts we were perceived as not open and receptive enough to all voices in the organisation. That is something we ought to and must do differently.”

Was the culture very male-dominated?

“I don’t actually like to gender-categorise corporate culture; I find it too one-sided. It’s been important for me to create a more inquisitive, nuanced and inclusive culture where we’re open to broader perspectives and behaviour among our colleagues.

Feedback requires courage and willingness to listen

Sanne Fredenslund was previously employed at Nordea from 2007 to 2015 before she returned in 2019. One of the things that she took with her when she left was Nordea’s feedback culture, which she values very highly.

“We’re good at giving each other feedback that is positive, constructive and forward-looking – what have we done well and what can we do even better? That requires courage and willingness to listen from both the person giving and receiving the feedback. One of the excellent things about the feedback culture is that it also works really well across professional areas and hierarchies. At Private Banking we’ve had many organisational changes and not everything works from the start. That’s when we rely on constructive feedback to find out what needs adjusting. We practice every day.”

Broadly based community creates security

“In the work to create the new Wealth Management organisation it’s been important for me to draw attention to diversity and the value of a broader composition of professional areas, experience, gender and age – so we get better at navigating in the complex world we’re living in.”

“I’ve worked in the financial sector since 1996 and been in the minority practically throughout my career. And in this respect I feel more comfortable and secure when there is a broader pool of employees and leaders. Also, I don’t always feel most strongly mirrored by another woman in the room – it might also be an older man or a younger man. What’s important is a broadly based community – and I’m sure this also means something to our colleagues across the bank and to our customers.”

Last summer Nordea once again joined the Copenhagen Pride parade to put focus on diversity and inclusion. Sanne Fredenslund is at the front to the right. This year Finansforbundet in Nordea joined Nordea’s parade. In addition to Sanne Fredenslund the photo shows Pia Kirk, Benjamin Schenkel, Jesper Kiby Denborg, Christine Asmussen and Mona Svan.

Sanne Fredenslund acknowledges that diversity can sometimes be ‘difficult’.

“It’s easier to reach agreement more quickly if you only analyse a problem from one angle. But the good ideas are created in the cross field between different professional skills, temperaments and experiences, and they evolve into solutions that the customers will appreciate even more.”

Consider a broader career path
During the periods of cultural changes Sanne Fredenslund has met worried colleagues who were afraid that the changes would ruin their career dreams and opportunities.

“Transparency and dialogue are super important to me. I’ve had to disappoint colleagues in the process because they had an ambition to get a position but ended up with another one. The great thing about working for a large company is that there are fortunately many other good opportunities.”

Sanne Fredenslund also encourages employees to consider a broader career path. You don’t always have to aim for a higher position with more responsibility and possibly more employees reporting to you. For instance, she stopped working for Danske Bank as a branch manager in 2007 to take up a position as executive adviser at Nordea.

“It’s easier to reach agreement more quickly if you only analyse a problem from one angle. But the good ideas are created in the cross field between different professional skills, temperaments and experiences, and they evolve into solutions that the customers will appreciate even more,” says Sanne Fredenslund, Head of Private Banking DK.


The extraordinary requires innovation

What can we do as employees to create a more inclusive culture?

“We must dare to be curious about what others can contribute with. When others do things differently it doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough but that we can inspire each other and ask about each other’s perspectives. We can become better versions of ourselves by taking a more open and curious interest in each other.”

Couldn’t curiosity impact efficiency? It forces us to stop and think, and we’re part of a very performance-driven culture where we must deliver results.

“If we want extraordinary results we need to do something extraordinary and not just repeat what we did yesterday. But it requires a curious mind. Moreover, our shareholders have set very ambitious targets. Actually, I also think that our customers expect us to challenge them to something that may give more.”

Union representatives help us keep a finger on the pulse

Sanne Fredenslund uses her network of union representatives very much in her work. There are regular meetings and in addition they sometimes invite her to come and give presentations and listen to them.

“The union representatives help me and my colleagues in the management team to keep a finger on the pulse. For instance in the case of a People Pulse survey where we need to know more about what lies behind the result. Most recently the Danish FSA (Financial Supervisory Authority) has required that some situations between an adviser and a customer are recorded and monitored, and I fully understand why this seems uncomfortable. That’s why I’ve reached out to our union representatives for input on how to implement this process in the best possible way to prevent that our advisers feel uncomfortable. The union representatives are also good at reaching out to me if they need help with something tricky.”

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