Students' solutions aim to strengthen Merkur Cooperative Bank

158 students from the Bachelor's Degree in Financial Management and Service at Cphbusiness have offered ideas to boost Merkur Cooperative Bank's business through for example further sustainable initiatives and increased loyalty.

21 June 2019

158 students from the Bachelor's Degree in Financial Management and Service at Cphbusiness have been working for two weeks to solve Merkur Cooperative Bank's (Merkur) biggest challenges in Case Competition 2019 - and the students have achieved a great result, says CEO Lars Pehrson from Merkur.

- It is some really good solutions and it was super exciting and fun to see the students' presentations. The students are pretty spot on and they have a high degree of understanding of our company. In that regard they have done a good job and the process has been a fine experience for us, he says.

Merkur has a sustainable profile, and the company's biggest ambition is to reduce their customer decline because it is too big, says lecturer Per Reeslev from Cphbusiness.

A discount-benefit-universe in favor of Merkur's members can help achieve that ambition. That is what the students Simone Malm, Emma Krøll Døj, Alexandra Kimberly Barnkob and Pernille Møller Reinholdt believe, and their solution is so good that they won the case competition.

- The idea of making a community of co-operatives fits really with what we want: We want to create a relationship-based bank with long-term relationships with our customers. They are also our co-owners and should feel that they are special. So that is really well thought out, says CEO Lars Pehrson.

In their solution, the students focus on boosting Merkur by giving the cooperative bank’s members a number of advantages - for example discounts in shops through a cooperative share card.

Very cool and a milestone

The students from Cphbusiness have learned several things from the task of helping Merkur and improving the cooperative bank's business model.

- It is very cool because we use the academic knowledge that we acquire, but we also get the chance to think out of the box and use it in a practical manner, says Simone Malm.

Together with Emma Krøll Døj, Alexandra Kimberly Barnkob and Pernille Møller Reinholdt, she was a part of one out of eight groups that presented to Merkur and the other students in the finals at the union association Finansforbundet in Copenhagen, before they could celebrate their victory.

Merkur rewarded the winning group with 15,000 Danish kroner, the group in second place received 10,000 Danish kroner, and the third-best group got 5,000 Danish kroner.

- It is a bit of a milestone in one's life. None of us have presented in front of so many people before, and that was in itself barrier-breaking, says Emma Krøll Døj.

- We have learned a lot about the companies and industries that we can end up in, says Alexandra Kimberly Barnkob.

It is the third year in a row, that Economic & Financial Management at Cphbusiness executes Case Competition for students from the Bachelor's Degree in Financial Management and Service and a strategic partner from the financial sector.

Lecturer Per Reeslev has been a part of creating the course, where the students have to gather information about a company in the financial sector and the company's strategy - and from that starting point come up with a new and creative idea that solves a problem for the company.

The course went really well, he believes.

- Especially regarding the loyalty challenge the students were good, but they also provided good suggestions on how Merkur can get customers to invest their money instead of keeping them in the deposit account. They also made fine suggestions on how Merkur can increase customer satisfaction by tying customers closer to them and reducing the dropout among the customers.

Motivates and gives a holistic view

The purpose of the course is for the students to show that they are able to apply relevant theories and models from the teaching at Cphbusiness in practice.

- Case competitions give students a holistic view so they can say: I can now combine all the subjects I have into a business model and come up with suggestions for improvements. I think this is important because otherwise they often perceive the subjects individually. Here we connect it all, says Per Reeslev.

The students from the Bachelor's Degree in Financial Management and Service recognise this.

- We have been able to use all the subjects we have had. Both marketing, presentation technique and project management. It all played a part, says Emma Krøll Døj.

Per Reeslev emphasises the students' energy and high motivation when working with solving challenges for Merkur.

- We can feel that as soon as there is a specific company behind, the motivation increases. That is the reason there were some really good solutions and generally we have to say that the motivation was in top because the students can see that they can use what they have learned. Suddenly there is something else at stake, he says.

Must convince Merkur's management

The three best groups from the Bachelor's Degree in Financial Management and Service at Cphbusiness are going to present their solutions for the cooperative bank's overall management.

- We had the difficult job of having to choose three groups, but the other students absolutely had something to offer as well. The energy, enthusiasm and effort behind it was very good, and it was a good experience for us, says Lars Pehrson, CEO at Merkur.

He is open to the company continuing with one or more of the students' ideas.

- I cannot promise that we will use the students' solutions in a one-to-one ratio tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. But I am pretty sure we are going to look more closely at the solutions and I can easily imagine that we will implement some of it. That is our approach and intention. It is not just for fun and my impression is that the students approached it the same way. Their expectation is that their ideas will be taken seriously, and that is what we will do.

Sustainability is a hot topic

Per Reeslev says that one of the benefits of working with Merkur is that there are some very clear issues that the students can solve.

However, that is only one of the reasons behind the collaboration between Cphbusiness and Merkur, says Bo Steen Larsen, Dean - Economic & Financial Management at Cphbusiness:

- Sustainability is a hot topic in the financial sector, so I am very pleased that we focus on that area. For us, it is important that the students are in touch with the world outside all the way through their education, and with case competitions like this one they get a good insight into what kind of sector they are heading into.

Read more about the Bachelor's Degree in Financial Management and Service (in Danish) at here: Finansbachelor.

Also read: 125 students innovated the advertising format

This article has been translated from Danish.