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Bicycle accident ended adviser’s career

On a dark early morning in December, an accident in the driveway turned bank employee Dorthe Bech’s career upside down. Now, she has been employed in a flex job for almost two decades, though not within the banking sector anymore. She has faced reluctance to employ her in a flex job. This is her story.

9. Jan 2024
8 min
English / Dansk
“I wish they would have looked at the person instead of the hours of work.” Dorthe Bech, former private banking adviser, now financial adviser. Photo: Thomas Søndergaard.

Dorthe Bech has had a long and good career in the Danish banking sector.

With such titles as private banking adviser, commercial adviser and department manager at several banks, she has built an impressive CV and boasts customer portfolios that would be a treat for many local branches.

But a bicycle accident in 2004 brought her career to an end. She was no longer able to work full-time.
An event that would not necessarily pose a problem in other lines of business, but in the financial sector, it is a different story.

Dorthe Bech has tried to get a flex job as a private banking adviser at three major Danish banks with branches in central Jutland.

All expressed great interest and follow-up interviews were held with many local managers wanting to hire her.

Even so, she was turned down every time, in her view, only because she applied for the job under the flex job scheme.

“On one particular occasion, the department manager was very interested in hiring me.”

“He subsequently had to take it back, after the management and HR had had their say. He was very upset about it. He apologised and repeatedly regretted the decision, which he didn’t agree with at all,” says Dorthe Bech and continues:

“I wish they would have looked at the person instead of the hours of work. It’s a shame to see the narrow-mindedness in some places, where the belief persists that advisers and bankers must be present full-time in order to contribute.”

(Artiklen fortsætter efter boksen)

Few employees in flex jobs in the financial sector

Dorthe Bech is living proof that it may be difficult for people with reduced working capacity to find work in the financial sector. Despite the so-called flex job scheme, whereby the municipality pays a subsidy to the pay to offset the reduced working capacity, there are not many employees in flex jobs in the financial sector.

Of 1,000 people employed at banks and mortgage credit institutions, 3.7 held a flex job in August this year, according to calculations made by Finansforbundet based on figures from the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment and Statistics Denmark.

In other words, the financial sector is at the bottom of the class in terms of hiring people in flex jobs.


In comparison, 6.6 of 1,000 workers were employed in flex jobs in the remaining financial sector, including insurance and pension, which employs roughly as many as banks and mortgage credit institutions. The labour market overall had 26.4 employees in flex jobs per 1,000 employees.

And it is not because flex job candidates are in short supply. Flex job unemployment in the second quarter of 2023 was 13 per cent, according to the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment compared to an overall unemployment rate of 2.9 per cent in November.

A flex job is an offer to individuals who, due to their reduced working capacity, are unable to work under normal conditions. In this way, individuals with specific considerations, whether physical or psychological, can still be a part of the labour market.

dorthe bech. Foto: Thomas Søndergaard

A bicycle accident in the driveway

On that cold and dark December morning, her life instantly changed.

On the morning of 21 December 2004, Dorthe Bech was rushing to her bicycle outside her house in Viborg. She had to stop for breakfast rolls and make coffee at work, so she and her colleagues could get into the Christmas spirit.

She had just said goodbye to her family, husband and three girls, who were going to a Christmas event at church before the holidays.

Outside, she raced down the steep driveway, unaware of the glazed frost, which soon after caused the bike to slide from under her.

On the cold asphalt, her immediate thought was to call the office to inform them that she might be running a bit late.

Then came the pain. It later turned out that she had sustained a neck fracture, two broken shoulders, injuries to the knee and jaw and a concussion.


Flex job

  • The job centre may grant a flex job to individuals who are incapable of getting or keeping a job under normal conditions in the labour market due to their reduced working capacity.
  • In a flex job, the employee’s reduced working capacity is taken into account.
  • A flex job is usually temporary.
  • When a person has been employed in a flex job for 4.5 years, the municipality must assess if they are still entitled to a flex job.
  • The employer only pays for the hours that the employee in a flex job works.
  • The municipality supplements the pay by a subsidy that is adjusted based on the income from the employer.

Source: Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment


“For me, it has always been full throttle”

It was this episode in life that turned Dorthe Bech’s banking career upside down.

A career that started with a trainee position at the Spar Nord savings bank in 1986 and was since exchanged for positions, mostly in savings banks in Western Jutland, as savings bank assistant, corporate banking adviser, department manager, customer adviser, adviser in insolvency and bankruptcy – and she also followed various training programmes such as in business studies.

What gives her the most problems today are whiplash, nerve damage to the neck and post-concussion symptoms.

“For me, it has always been full throttle. But on 5 January, after walking a kilometre to work, I just wanted to lie down at the side of the road. My whole body was aching, and I no longer felt my neck could carry me.”

Dorthe Bech was on part-time sick leave in the beginning, but she was determined to go back to work and move on with her banking career and her dream of studying law.

“I’ll get well soon.” That’s what I thought.

But months after, the pain had not subsided, and a meeting was arranged with the municipality. They suggested the flex job scheme.

“I couldn’t see myself fitting into that at all. I wanted to return to my job on full-time and preferably more hours, which is what I was used to. Today, I am grateful for the social worker who gave me the push.”

Dorthe Bech. Photo: Thomas Søndergaard.

Flex job at Hvidbjerg Bank

For the next couple of years, Dorthe Bech worked quite successfully at the trade union Krifa. Here she specialised in insolvency and bankruptcies.

Later, much to her delight, she got the opportunity to return to the banking world when Hvidbjerg Bank happily took her on as a private banking adviser in a flex job.

“I really liked that job. I had nice colleagues and a good and loyal customer portfolio. My contract said 15 hours, but the bank got slightly more for their money," she says.

“Once you have helped people with their finances, it becomes second nature. So, if a good customer or someone in your circle needs help, you also answer their calls during holidays and weekends," she says.

She stayed with Hvidbjerg Bank for 10 years, until various changes meant that it was no longer a good working environment for her. She resigned and wanted to try something different.

That is when Dorthe Bech faced unwillingness to hire an experienced private banking adviser like her in a flex job.

“It’s a bummer being told that you have an impressive CV and you’re a nice person, but the flex job makes it unfeasible.”

“You’re just eager to show them that you’ve still got it. It’s a shame that they haven’t got the courage,” says Dorthe Bech about the encounters with the three major banks.

Financial manager with flexible working hours

In 2017, via Flexfabrikken, she instead got a job in a construction company basically as a financial manager, but on reduced hours.

Here, she handled budgets, cash budgets, budgetary control, costing, negotiations with banks and insurance companies.

She called it a dream job. It lasted for four years, when her position was finally taken over by a full-time accountant, and she got the same type of job working for the manager’s brother-in-law.

She worked nine hours a week in both places.

A closed chapter?

Today, Dorthe Bech works for seven hours a week at Flexfabrikken, handling the finances together with other flex job employees. She enjoys it very much.

It took some time for Dorthe Bech to accept that she was unable to return to her full-time job and resume her career in banking.

She occasionally helps friends, a couple of selected previous customers and a Syrian refugee with their finances.

But otherwise, she has basically put that world behind her, she admits.

“I usually work things out when I face challenges. But I have been outside the sector for a sufficiently long period of time to realise that it would take some doing.

“It’s a closed chapter. Unfortunately”, finishes Dorthe Bech.

(Artiklen fortsætter efter boksen)

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