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The same thing, naturally, happened in Finland. Tough times - and I had just started a company to do computer graphic animation. But we survived.

My business partner had a company in derivatives (he's an AI guy), but saw it all coming and switched to rental properties. Another close and loaded friend strongly advised me in the late 80s to invest in the rising market (for the first time in my life). I did for a year and then got out. I realised I would rather invest in creativity. My friend was investing in art too, and at his invitation, I took my then girlfriend on a wonderful sailing trip off the Lydian coast. We were unofficially married at a windy 9 knots speed by the French-Canadian captain, with the bride looking distinctly green. We were somewhere off Rhodes.

Also on board the 12 meter boat were a corporate lawyer and a major bank CEO and his wife. A little over two years later, the bank CEO was disgraced, the lawyer succumbed to alcoholism, and my friend escaped to NY with part of his art collection, leaving total business chaos behind in which he more or less lost everything to margin calls.

The Finnish banking system was at that time roughly divided into two cabals based on the historical investments of the principle industrial families in timber, paper, ship-building and metal. The two groups were KOP (Kansallis Osake Pankki or National Bank Corporation and SYP (Suomen Yhdys Pankk). A few smaller banks and cooperative banks had grown up during the 80s including bad boy SKOP, who did most of the later damage. These new banks marketed aggressively and began to threaten the two traditional powerhouses who preferred to keep it all in the back room with cigars and brandy.

After the crash, everything went into rapid evolution that is still felt today, with massive state intervention and pawnbroking. The Finnish banking system today is part of the new Nordic landscape. The Icelandic banks have been also very active, as I predicted several years ago in an article on Kaupthing conducted in Reykjavik.

For account holders with computers, banking is a cinch these days. You can do almost everything online or in front of an ATM. Two newcomers are challenging the banks and setting up new style freestanding ATMs in kiosks and non-standard locations (kiosks are everywhere and sell everything from newspapers to bus passes)

Long forgotten is the multimillion mark Wolff Olin rebranding of SYP as Merita that lasted less than 24 months.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 18th, 2008 at 07:37:03 AM EST

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