The Finanser Logo

Chris Skinner's blog

Shaping the future of finance


Creating a bank that rocks

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Late last year, I blogged about Vernon Hill's Commerce Bank, Arkadi Kuhlman's ING Direct and creating a bank that rocks.

Well I know a bank that rocks.

Jyske Bank.


Jyske Bank in Denmark.

They are the third largest Danish bank with 120 branches and 4,000 employees.

Jyske are an important banking story because they embarked on a lengthy change program ten years ago and saw it through. In fact, they have been through two generations of change since 1996.

Frank Pedersen, who heads up Marketing & Communications at the Bank, presented at the European Banking Forum** in Frankfurt the other week.

Frank is an unprepossessing character who presents in a kind of shuffly, humble way. He bounces around the stage and points and smiles and laughs, and tells the Jyske story in a kind of story telling sort of way.

I love it.

Anyways, I’m not going to share the whole story here as you can buy a case study from Forrester if you want or, slightly cheaper, buy the book: “Jyske Bank på det Blå Ocean”.

It’s in Danish, but that’s no problem is it?

For example, “Jyske Bank på det Blå Ocean” means “Jyske Bank on the Blue Ocean”, and Blue Ocean strategies are all about finding a space where no-one else can compete. And that’s what Jyske have done.

But if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on translating a Danish Book or buying a Forrester report, then read on …

Jyske Bank back in the 1990s were like most Scandinavian banks. Business like, stark offices, with nothing that looks too inviting or modern.

This photograph from the early 1990s sets the scene:


So, in 1996, Jyske reinvented itself and began a branch transformation program.

Here’s the new branch look.


Much brighter and open, with advisors sitting next to customers in open plan and screens shared like-for-like.

It’s a nice picture, and was copied by many banks worldwide. For example, some of us remember the Washington Mutual Occasio rollout.

That one grabbed headlines as it recast the bank as completely open, with no barriers between cashiers and customer.

Jyske’s aim in their first wave of branch change was to create a space that combined the three atmospheres of a:

a) bank: transactional, safe, secure;
b) shop: open, friendly, retailing; and
c) library: learning, education and advice.

Jyske Bank also invested heavily in a staff cultural change programme based around core values, which were encapsulated in the Jyske Bank Values Book.

These values are that the customer experience should be enhanced through:

  • Learning – helping customers to become a bit wiser
  • Individualisation – Jyske Bank work with your own figures
  • Inspiration – Jyske Bank help you to feel like realising your dreams
  • Humour and unpretentiousness – you get a good laugh and can relax with Jyske

I must admit that last one is a bit of a shocker – laugh and relax with the bank - yea, right. But with Jyske Bank, this comes through as being true because these values are engaged with every member of the bank’s 4,000 people.

Mind you, how can you make the bank feel this change?

You tart up the branches, introduce a bank brand values book and advertise to customers to come in and have a laugh … then they arrive and find bank staff like this:


So Jyske ran a meeting for all staff in 1999 to shake things up.

The meeting was all about how a Swedish Bank had decided to acquire Jyske Bank.

The new CEO stood up and explained how they had always been interested in getting a foothold in Denmark and this was it. They liked to have Jyske products as they had always been fascinated by the bank.

It kind of smacked of aliens taking over the Earth which, bearing in mind this was a Swedish Bank taking over a Danish Bank (think Germany/Netherlands, France/England, USA/the World), it was.

So the unions were all jumping up and down and shouting about how awful this was, staff were in tears and everyone was frightened … except it was all a joke.

A joke with a purpose – to create the burning platform for change.

This got everyone to realise that the company’s values and mindset were different and that, if they wanted to keep it that way, then everyone had to buy into it.

Their culture is different and, this way, they could stop anyone acquiring them ... by being different. Particularly avoid a Swede buying them!

Their culture is different.

You can copy products and branch designs as much as you want, but you cannot copy a culture.

This is why Jyske Bank works.

So Jyske went on to succeed in creating their niche but it still wasn’t enough, so they decided to work on Jyske Bank, the Next Generation.

This new generation of bank would be based upon a new interior design, which they gave out to three design agencies to create.

Here’s Frank Pedersen discussing what happened next at the European Banking Forum **:

The three proposals were no good, so they decided to do it themselves. After all, who would know better what the bank wanted than the bank themselves.

And here’s what they came up with:

A bank like no other bank.

Sure, they have a concierge, or host as they call it, but not like the normal one:


Sure, they have a coffee bar (so do ING Cafés, Deutsche Bank’s Q110 and Umpqua), but they tasted 200 coffee bean flavours to get there.


Sure, they have conference rooms, but not like any I’ve seen:


They even have games rooms to leave the kids (or the husband):


All of this is to back up the idea of being unpretentious – relax and have a laugh at the bank – as well as a learning experience for customers that inspires the individual.


A culture, design and completely different bank.

In launching the new bank, they also made a brave move by hiring John B for the launch. John B is actually a well known newsreader in Denmark who ran a campaign asking what Jyske were doing:

This was a brave campaign that wondered what Jyske Bank could be hiding? Was there international treachery taking place? Why is Jyske Bank under wraps?

The answer was revealed when the new branch was launchded but, in the months leading up to the new branch openings, Jyske Bank using their own advertising created nerves about the bank’s future.

The new bank had cost $80 million to create, and now they were running a campaign asking what the bank was doing.

The campaign resulted in a sell-off of Jyske’s shares as hundreds of articles, TV spots and radio discussions kicked off asking what was behind the brown wrappers.

Then the new bank branches were opened and the campaign moved into showing what the new bank was all about.

The adverts took top spot in Denmark for name recognition and Millward Brown, the market research firm, found that Jyske’s Brand awareness shot through the roof:


And Jyske Bank has become one of Denmark’s best loved banks … in fact, they are one of Denmark’s best loved brands.

They have even launched their own Danish financial TV news station, Jyske TV.

A Bloomberg TV for Denmark if you like.

This is a fully owned, bank run with a mixture of financial and professional journalists, broadcasting as a professional TV news station … from Jyske Bank’s Head office.

Jyske Bank.

As a cultural change and retail bank innovation case study, it’s one of the best I’ve seen.

Well worth the time to write this up and well worth the time to spend in understanding what they have done.

Remember: you can copy the products, designs and ideas, but not the culture.

That’s the point.

And it’s a critical one.

* all presentations and videos are available in full for Financial Services Club members, including remote internet-based members

** the European Banking Forum is a conference run jointly between the Financial Services Club and VIB Events

Case StudiesCategories
Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

Chris’s latest book

Chris Skinner’s ‘Digital For Good’ Book Launch Event – CFTE

Global Awards

Best CEO of the Year UK 2022

Best Digital Finance Provider of the Year UK 2022

Best Financial Markets Adviser of the Year UK 2022

Portal to the Knowledge Base of the Financial Services Club UK 2022

Financial Markets Advisor of the Year UK 2022

Corporate America Today Annual Awards

Best Financial Markets Adviser of the Year UK 2022

Portal to the Knowledge Base of the Financial Services Club UK 2022

Financial Markets Advisor of the Year UK 2022

Best Financial Services Blogger

Nominee of MAD33 2021

Kids creating the future bank | TEDxAthens

Join me on Linkedin

Follow Me on Twitter!

UK’s most influential person in technology

Captain Cake and the Candy Crew

Captain Cake Winner of a Golden Mom’s Choice Award


TheNextWeb – #tnw

Learn more about Chris

About Chris Skinner

Digital Bank Presentation

Digital Bank, May 2014 from Chris Skinner

Alex at the Financial Services

Gaping Void's Hugh MacLeod worked with the Finanser