Business meals are usually held over lunch and it is not considered to be bad manners to discuss business related issues over the meal. Despite the Finnish reputation for hard drinking, it is unusual for alcohol to be taken with lunch.
However dinner is a different matter and, if invited for dinner you can expect alcohol to be served. Finns tend to drink beer and vodka but wine has become ever more popular. Over dinner, conversation tends to steer clear of business topics and concentrate more on other issues. Sport and Finland itself are common topics for discussion.
No section on business entertaining in Finland would be complete without a mention of the Finnish sauna and its role in Finnish life. The sauna is a venerated Finnish tradition. (Business discussions may even be held in a sauna). Business lunch or dinner may be preceded or followed by a sauna. All Finns sauna naked and, although you do not have to sauna naked, it is considered strange not to. Finns insist on punctuality for social occasions.
As a rule, service is included in restaurant bills. Many people add an extra gratuity but this is at your discretion. (10% -15% is a reasonable figure.)
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Finland. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Finland and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: