NFU Blog

Part 7: Pressure from compliance

NFU continuously works to shape EU legislation to the benefit of the employees’ of the financial sectors. As a part of this work, NFU last year conducted a survey on how regulatory requirements stemming from EU legislation effect finance employees’ work and wellbeing. Annika Stenström (@AnnikaStenstrm), Policy Advisor at Nordic Financial Unions, presents NFU’s most recent study “Coping with Compliance” (2018).

This week NFU publishes expert insights to the disruptive forces of the digital transition in the nordic finance sector written by seven trade union representatives in policy, politics and research. Each opinion piece is a written summary of a presentation given at the NFU Policy Affairs Forum on the 9-10th of April 2018.

The study “Performance Measurement Systems”, published by NFU in 2015, shows that the administrative burden and pressure stemming from performance measurement systems has increased in the sector. At the same time, the amount of regulatory requirements has also increased, possibly adding an additional burden to finance employees. Against this background, NFU decided to investigate whether the workload and pressure also had increased due to the regulatory requirements (on information to consumers, documentation and Know Your Customer (KYC).

The result shows that workload has increased, and it has done so at the cost of both the customer and employee. Increased pressure to comply to the regulation while enduring continuous high sales targets is causing stress for the employee, and less time to meet with and advice customers.

A Swedish survey, conducted by FSU-SE in 2016, shows that finance employees experience that they are increasingly pushed harder, and that 10% reports that they must call in sick because of the work burden. It begs the question if there just are too few people to deal with the workload that the regulation creates. As employees barely have time to get to competence improvement how can they keep up with compliance and how can the employer not feel the pressure to expand its operation to meet the demands. The regulation is pushing for a necessary job growth in the sector.

Furthermore, the NFU survey shows that employees are forced to choose between complying to the requirements and providing good customer service. 38% of the respondents also say that customers tend to react in a negative reaction to KYC-questions. The Commission is putting individual policing tasks on the finance sector, which may be reasonable due to the digitalization of financial crimes, but it then requires stronger frameworks to protect employees as they perform new tasks for the sector.

A Danish study, surveying members from FSU-DK, conducted as a follow-up on “Coping with Compliance” supports the result. Eight out of ten says that compliance has increased in their day-to-day work and over half that it is a stress factor. The employees agree that compliance is important, but raise concerns as to whether the regulation contributes to or hinders them from giving the right advice.

While the respondents of the NFU study believe that the regulation increases the protection of advisors, though they are administratively burdensome, the regulations are not believed to increase the customer’s understanding of the product. Clearly a better balance is needed between what is implemented and what is the expected outcome. There are too many rules for the customer to understand them all; and for the employee to comply to them all. Simplification is needed to ensure customer protection and employee wellbeing.

The combined result of these studies clearly shows the need for NFU to continue the conversation with employers and legislators about the sector and job growth, in addition to, customer protection and employee wellbeing.


This is a written summary of a presentation given by Annika Stenström, Policy Advisor at the NFU, on the 9-10th of April 2018 at the NFU Policy Affairs Forum. An event for secretariat staff with expertise in, or with a role connected to, sectorial and industry policy affairs. The overarching theme was: the disruptive impact of the fourth industrialization on the financial service sector. The purpose of the forum was to provide participants with the chance to exchange expertise and experiences on key finance sector topics while stimulating future cooperation and coordination on sectoral policy issues. Several interesting proposals on how to follow up and improve coordination to increase the effect of shared policy work were proposed by the participants as a result.

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