NFU News

NFU Conference 2021

This week, NFU arranged the NFU Conference 2021 in Malmö. It was the first physical event arranged by NFU since before the pandemic and you could really feel the buzz in the air when old and new friends met for the first time in forever. The conference had four main thematic topics that was discussed by speakers, panels of member unions and in workshops with all participants: The future of work and the office, Sustainable finance, Digitalisation and the future of finance, and Digitalisation, AI and data privacy.

Michael Budolfsen, President of NFU, opened the conference with a speech where he emphasised the historical moment the conference was as it was the first time we were able to meet in so long.

“Just take a moment…can you feel it? Those of you who have attended NFU activities before will know that we talk about the NFU family…this is not just a word. Right now it is a really strong feeling for me. After more than a year and a half. To see you arriving. Meet your colleagues. A physical smile…a handshake…even a hug…just being here again with you. It is really emotional!”

The first thematic block of the conference had the theme of “Lessons from the pandemic – The future of work and the future of the office”. The speakers at the block were Michael Birkjaer from the Happiness Research Institute and Tove Selnes, HR Director at Storebrand. Michael Birkjaer presented the work that the institute together with the Nordic Council of ministers had done on the Wellbeing Economy and the need for new measurements when analysing wellbeing in the society. The report can be found here: Towards a Nordic Wellbeing Economy | Nordic cooperation (

Tove Selnes spoke about the work that Storebrand in Norway has been doing when it comes to the new normal worklife after the pandemic and the hybrid office. She stressed the need for flexibility, social interaction and to always think about the sustainability aspect, something she combined in the frase “People, Profit and Planet”. Read more on the work Storebrand has been doing in Finansfokus: Nå utvikler Storebrand fremtidens arbeidsplass – FinansFokus

The speakers were followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the member unions: Unio, Pro, Forsikringsforbundet and Finansförbundet Sweden. The panellists shared their experiences from the pandemic, the learnings and challenges and the way forward.

The second block of the conference had the theme of “A social perspective in Sustainable finance”. Vasilka Lalevska presented the latest work of NFU on the need for a social perspective in Sustainable Finance. If there is going to be a fair transition, we cannot only talk about environmental sustainability but also need to address the social aspects. NFU is publishing a new Position paper on the Social aspects in Sustainable Finance that will be launched at a launch webinar on 18 November.

Finnish Member of European Parliament Sipra Pietikäinen couldn’t attend the conference in person but sent a speech to the conference. In it, she highlighted the work on the platform on sustainable finance that she had been the EP rapporteur on. She stressed the need for financial unions to continue to take an active role in the work on sustainable finance.

The speakers were followed by a panel of representatives form the member unions: Finansforbundet Norway, Finansförbundet Sweden and Finansforbundet Denmark. They highlighted the work done on sustainability in both the national unions but also at a local level. They also stressed the need for social aspects to have a bigger role when we discuss sustainability.

“We need to address the S in ESG”.

The first day of the conference was ended with a joint dinner with all the participants.

The second day of the conference started with an EU Brief, a conversation between Michael Budolfsen, President NFU, Carin Hallerström, Secretary General NFU and Swedish member of European Parliament Johan Danielsson on the latest in the European parliament. The conversation circled around the issues of minimum wages, a just and fair transition and the future of the European Union. Johan Danielsson stressed the need and important role of Trade unions in the work to make sure that a green transition is a fair transition.

“Trade unions and employees need to have an active part in the transition to make sure that it is fair for all”

The first thematic block of the second day had the theme of “Digitalisation and the future of finance”. Anna Ilsøe presented the work on Fintech that she has been doing on the Danish Fintech arena. She especially highlighted the good example of the Framework agreement that has been agreed on between Finansforbundet and Fintech in Denmark. Anna Ilsøe is part of a NFU/UNI project on Fintech that will result in a report coming out in 2022.

Alexandra Andhov went on to discuss the importance and challenges that innovation play in finance. Finance has always been in the heart of innovation and one of its largest drivers. We need to look not only at the technological innovations alone, but also the new processes that it creates.

The speakers were followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the trade unions: Finansforbundet Denmark, Forena and Finansforbundet Norway. Good and bad examples of how digital tools had been adopted in the finance market was highlighted. The need for cooperation is important and the threat from Big Tech should not be underestimated.

The forth, and last block of the conference had the theme of “Digitalisation and the workers – AI and data privacy”. Christina Colclough presented on the topic and talked about that algorithmic tools are already used at work and are here to stay, as long as we as trade unions act on it. Monitoring and productivity measurements are used widely, often without the employees’ knowledge. The problem is also that often do not managers and company leaders know the risks attached to these tools.

The speech was followed by a panel with representatives from the member unions: SSF, Finansforbundet Norway and Pro. There was a common understanding that the knowledge gap is the largest threat right now and that trade unions must act here. It was also great to hear that some work has been done already, but more is needed.

The conference was ended by a speech from Susanne Lindberg, Vice president of NFU. She highlighted the need for collective agreements and to stand up for employees rights always. Carin Hallerström, Secretary General, ended the conference by thanking all the speakers, panellists and participants.

A conference paper with some main take aways from the discussions will be able later. The conference speeches and panels have been filmed and will be viewable here soon.

Thank you to all that participated!
/The NFU Team

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