Finland: Doing business and staying in touch
Doing Business in Finland
Businesspeople are expected to dress smartly, although trousers and a shirt are becoming more common than the traditional suit-and-tie. Most Finnish businesspeople speak English as well as Swedish and/or German. Finns are naturally reserved and do not like speaking for the sake of it. Loud or talkative people are sometimes viewed with suspicion, though an open-minded, global perspective have in recent years made Finns more accepting of foreign mannerisms.
Punctuality is essential for business as well as social occasions. A handshake and verbal introduction is customary when meeting for the first time, regardless of gender. Business cards should always be exchanged. Be aware of the holiday seasons in Finland; many Finns take a winter holiday in February, and business virtually shuts down for the summer holidays from late June to the end of July.
Meetings and business deals are often conducted by telephone or at a sauna. Although saunas are regarded as retreats in other countries, in Finland they have a more flexible purpose.
Standard office hours are 0800 to 1615 Monday to Friday, although many businesses open earlier and close later in major cities. Some open on Saturday morning.
Mon-Fri 0800-1615, though some places stay open till 1700.
The Finnish economy was sluggish in the 1990s but bounced back in the early years of the new millennium. As a result, the nation has a budget surplus and low levels of debt. Their economy began to dip after the 2008 financial crisis but Finland eventually returned to growth in 2016. They saw the economy grow by 3.3% in 2017, and economic growth is expected to continue at a rate of 2-3% per year.
The Finnish economy has traditionally been driven by the export of timber and paper and heavy manufacturing, but the rise of the Nokia mobile phone company made Finland a leading light in the world of telecommunication – which along with optics account for nearly 25% of Finnish exports. Finland's GDP per capita is just above US$47,000, which puts it on par with the most successful Western European economies.
Although only 7.5% of its land is used for agriculture, Finland is virtually self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs such as grain, dairy products and root crops. However, industry is heavily dependent on imported components. Finland has exploited its geographical position to develop strong trading links to Scandinavia, Western Europe and Russia. The national airline Finnair has massively expanded its network, particularly in Asia, significantly increasing the number of tourists visiting Finland en route to other countries.
Unemployment continues to be a problem in rural areas - the overall rate stands at just under 8%, but this is inflated by the statistics from Lapland and North Karelia, where unemployment regularly exceeds 15%. In southern Finland, the rate is closer to 5%. Although the economy has been liberalised, the traditional network of social welfare services remains strong - helped by a low rate of population growth - and Finland ranks consistently highly on standard-of-living indices.
US$252.5 billion (2017).
Metals, electrical and optical equipment, machinery, timber and scientific instruments, paper and chemicals.
Food, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, transport equipment, iron and steel, commodities, machinery and electronic industry products.
Main trading partners
Germany, Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands, China and the UK.
Keeping in Touch in Finland
Local and international calls can be made from street-side telephone booths and, in larger cities, tele-centres. Most public telephones operate using a pre-paid card purchased from R-kiosks, shops and post offices. Shops also sell cards that can be used to make discounted international calls.
Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies and GSM 900/1800 coverage is excellent - as you might expect from the home of Nokia. You may find it cheaper to buy a Finnish SIM card, available for about €15, which includes €10 of calling credit.
Wi-Fi is widely available in hotels, restaurants and on public transport. There are also hotspots in some cities. Most large conurbations have commercial internet cafes.
Finland has a strong and independent media with privately-owned newspapers that reflect a broad spectrum of political views. Public communications network YLE provides national radio and TV programming. Freedom of the press is enshrined in Finnish law, and Finns read the newspapers avidly.
Generally Mon-Fri 0900-1800, with regional variations. Helsinki's central post office (Elielinaukio 2, 00100 Helsinki) is open Mon-Fri 0800-2000, Sat 1000-1600, Sun 1200-1600.Post Office hours
Generally Mon-Fri 0900-1800, with regional variations. Helsinki's central post office at Mannerheiminaukio 1, 00100 Helsinki, is open Mon-Fri 0700-2100, Sat-Sun 1000-1800.