Leinonen Group was established nearly 30 years ago, the Estonian branch celebrated its 25th birthday last year. Soon the same celebrations will take place in the St. Petersburg and Latvian offices.
The journey started with Mr. Leinonen wishing to be an entrepreneur. It had always been his dream, his mindset and way of life. At first, he wanted to get into the honey production business. The company logo still has a derivation of that particular passion on it. To this day Mr. Leinonen’s aim in life is to help companies become more successful and he has chosen to do that through accounting.
At the end of the ‘80s he started his company in Finland. Soon in the early ‘90s Finland went into recession and the company faced the same financial problems as everyone else at the time. A difficult choice was on the table: either to lay off employees or come up with a new strategy. He acknowledged that it wasn’t the team’s fault the company was struggling. So, in a very Finnish manner, he decided to make a gutsy move and bring the company over to Estonia instead. This decision to treat people fairly grounded Leinonen’s future roadmap to success.
Finnish management and leadership principles
One of the cornerstones of the Finnish management style is striving towards sustainability. There are few things a viable company needs to do and kickstarting the company’s success by expanding business outside of Finland was just the beginning. In order to stay atop of your area of expertise, you must have a motivated workforce who knows you care about them. Management in Finland is far softer than in the post soviet culture. When assembling your team values, high ethics and honesty are very important.
Another one of our key elements in Leinonen is that we don’t do any shady business, we even have turned down some clients who have asked for such. In a field like accounting, it is crucial to be exhaustive and exact at all times, to make sure everything is above board. In Leinonen that is the way we are.
A thorough and transparent accounting is extremely important when you’re trying to set up your company in a new country. We meet the authorities’ needs and requirements. The reason why our industry exists is that we keep the authorities happy. Our clients are taken care of.
For example, it often happens that some companies get creative with their tax planning when expanding abroad, since they don’t know the differences. In such cases we keep an eye on the client’s accounts and doings, add an extra layer of control. Guide them and make sure all procedures are done according to the local legislation. All of which is very useful when opening a new branch in a new country.
A long history of international experience and stability
Finland declared its independence in 1917 and has had the privilege of remaining an independent democracy ever since. This plays an important role in how society and culture have developed in Finland when compared to many countries Leinonen offers its services in. Having open borders during the Soviet era means English was and still is much more widely spoken than in Eastern and Southern Europe. Political stability and lack of corruption have been a good basis for a nation that values diligence and honesty.
Leinonen’s cosmopolitan state of mind along with a can-do attitude is what prompted its growth in the ’90s. Many Finnish companies wanted to go international while getting the same quality service. For us, it was a mutual effort, a somewhat a ‘let’s do it together’ type of thing. A lot of Finnish companies were exploring the Baltics and we in Leinonen got a fair amount of business going from that. It was a win-win situation as we got a lot of recommendations, they got civilized accounting and top quality service.
At the time we used to be the only Finnish services provider in many countries, i.e. when Finnish clients expanded to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Poland etc we helped them. But more and more, it’s not only Finns anymore. It’s also foreign companies who are looking for English speaking service providers. It’s the key group at the moment. A lot of Western companies are a bit doubtful about local service providers. Finns have a certain well-earned reputation of being good: smart, honest and sometimes even beyond our own benefits. Our corporate culture is very people-oriented and caring, plus clients trust us to speak English.
Hacking the local culture so you don’t have to
It might be that Leinonen’s choice of countries to expand into, has been led by the needs of its Finnish clients. What is certain is that this choice differentiates us from many of our counterparts. It has always been the driving force and mindset of Leinonen Group: we want to spread our wings. Other than Scandinavia, the aim has been, so far at least, Eastern and Central Europe where there have been significant societal, political and business changes since the ’90s.
Stereotypes are what scare Scandinavians. Especially Norway. Leinonen has the advantage of navigating in the cultural turmoil. Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish accounting companies are not very willing to take on clients from the Eastern side. They are afraid of stereotypes about the Russians, Estonians, Polish etc. That there is too much so-called funky business going on. Especially Norwegians, they distrust foreigners a lot. And that works to our advantage we love to work with foreigners! It’s our thing.
All in all, our strength is serving the clients abroad – foreigners as well as Finns. We are helping with our years of practice, we are able to anticipate their needs and questions. On the other hand, we also help clients from Poland etc to move to Scandinavia. In such cases, it is important to understand Scandinavian administration and business practices. They have been building up their administrative ways for the last 400 years, it’s extremely fine-tuned. Just like the Old Bible with all the rules, which are not forgiving at all. Moving your company to a vastly more expensive country is a huge risk but it’s something we can help manage.
Finns have a reputation of being honest, hard-working, precise and thorough. These are values that we in Leinonen promote all over our network. Why? Since we believe that helping our clients the Finnish way is also our own road to success. If you’d like to have a reliable business partner with such esteemed traits then go ahead and contact us.