Banks are a critical pillar of support during the COVID-19 crisis 7 Apr 2020 16:04 Aleksi Lehtonen Turbulent times emphasise the importance of cooperation. The will to help is strong; many have rolled up their sleeves, ready to work hard, but successful results require dialogue and flexibility all around. Ever since the coronavirus crisis struck, governments and authorities have been making highly impactful decisions at breakneck speed. Finnish banks were also quick to step up and have taken responsibility to help businesses survive. Banks have now focused their full attention on helping their customers, and are giving their best to provide the support and advice that Finnish businesses need in these trying times. The task is not taken lightly: in order to find the best possible solutions, each company’s situation must be thoroughly assessed. Additional credit, for example, is not the best option for all companies. Banks have to oversee debts so that the corona crisis won’t be followed by a loan repayment crisis.Fortunately, Finnish banks have the capacity to help. We are making sure that banks’ position as one of the pillars of society is unwavering – now and in the future. Because no one can tell the duration and extent of the pandemic, we need to prepare for all scenarios.As the biggest Nordic bank, Nordea has special responsibility towards the home market. A significant proportion of Finnish businesses are our customers, and we take our role as a business partner especially seriously in this situation. In March, Finnish banks jointly decided to offer businesses the option of loan grace periods. They were received with very high demand: the number of applications rose up to 25, even 30 times compared to normal. Banks also offer loans guaranteed by Finnvera, the state-owned specialised financing company. Nordea is involved in all these relief measures.I want to express my gratitude to all participants in all sectors for their good cooperation in finding and implementing these solutions. It is our shared effort to minimise the damages on Finnish businesses and industries, helping companies navigate across this economic crevice. Next we need to sit down and engage in dialogue to prepare for the eventual transition back to normal life.This column is part of a series where Finance Finland member companies talk about responsibility in the financial sector.