1 Proud of our past, prepared for the future. Informationsförlaget Folksam100+!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Folksam100+!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
3 Folksam100+ Informationsförlaget
4 Folket + Samarbete = Folksam More than just insurance The Landmark at Skanstull Folksam people and the field offices On the offensive in an ever-changing world Core Values, the link between vision and reality Chronology Folksam s leaders over the years Image sources Employees of Folksam and subsidiaries 2008 Folksam and Informationsförlaget 2008 Written by Tina Westerlund Images, see image sources page 117 Project Management Sandler Mergel/Helen Mergel Graphic Design Claes Gustavsson/Darwin Production Bokform/Majbritt Hagdal Working Group Folksam Barbro Gustavsson, Gunvall Grip, Carina Persson, Åsa Persson Meczynski Repro Italgraf Published by Europrinting, Italy Informationsförlaget Box 6884, SE Stockholm, Sweden, Telephone ISBN
11 Folket + Samarbete = Folksam The year is 1905, another time, another world. In Russia, events are taking place that are the prelude to revolution. In Sweden, the dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian Union takes precedence over almost everything else in the public debate. Norway wishes to dissolve the Union and become independent, which brother country Sweden opposes. But to no avail, as it would soon become clear. This year, agitator Hinke Berggren is fined 50 kronor for threatening in a speech to give an officer a good hiding. The first vehicle register is compiled and Sweden has the grand total of 115 cars. This is the poor man s Sweden of poverty and bread riots with many people living in abject misery. But it is also a time of struggle, of visions of a better life, of pending upheavals. Society is a simmering cauldron of strong powers pulling in different directions. The Swedish Trade Union Confederation (lo) had been formed in 1898 and in 1905 the newly formed Cooperative Union (kf) holds its first general meeting. The Gävle branch puts forward a motion for a home contents insurance establishment to be set up for cooperative members that would take their special needs into consideration. There were no Cooperative members among the owners of the 115 cars in the new vehicle register. These were common people; smallholders, crofters, farm labourers, industrial workers families, who did not own much in the way of worldly chattels, and definitely nothing that insurance companies of the time considered worth insuring. They insured properties, assets, articles of value. Nobody would have dreamed of knocking on the doors of timber hovels and crofters cottages to sell insurance. And even if they did, who could afford an insurance policy? The proposed home contents insurance won approval among the delegates at the Cooperative Union general meeting in 1905 and preparations got underway. But the spirit of the time was conservative and authorities were somewhat noncompliant. Insurance policies for the poor? What good would that do? The cooperative had no equity and bank loans were out of the question. Permission to start an insurance company required signed insurance policies to the tune of two million 19 As well as offering the ultimate in insurance protection, the mission of Samarbete and Folket is to utilise their growing funds and capital resources to support the development of the Cooperative Movement, along with cultural and other endeavours that best serve the broad interests of both camps. K. Eriksson, Managing Director and President of Folket Samarbete from 1925 to 1945 Opposite page: At the turn of the year , Folket Samarbete moved into its own premises, Kungsgatan 5, in Stockholm after renting an office in the Cooperative Union building for many years. The building was to serve as company headquarters for 37 years. The picture was taken in 1955 just after the Folksam name was established. Above: According to the established insurance companies of the late 19th century, a Swedish farm labourer and his family did not have much to insure. But all the same, a fire must have been just as devastating for this family as any wealthy family. The Samarbete Mutual Fire Insurance Society was able to offer a cheap alternative from 1908.
12 Above: At 47 years of age, August Vilhelm Söderbom (AV) became Samarbete s first employee and MD. He was given the title of ombudsman. He had been a farm labourer, soldier, police officer and hospital porter in Köping. He was an active member of the Cooperation Union and took part in the congress decision to form Samarbete. A thrifty realist with common sense. Martin Sundell led the procedures prior to the forming of Samarbete in 1908 and became its first secretary. Like AV Söderbom, he came from Köping. A typographer and editor of the Co-operator journal, he was a talented young man. It was a great loss when Sundell died in 1910 at the age of 31. Clerks deeply engrossed in their work at Samarbete. The office had large windows to enable the staff to work in daylight. Right: The year is probably 1934, possibly a Cooperative Union congress. Seved Apelqvist (left), editor of Konsumentbladet, which later became VI magazine, and Folksam s MD, AV Strömbom, have more in common than they realise. Twelve years later Apelqvist was to succeed Strömbom Below: The agents, then as now the backbone of the two new insurance companies. It is 1914 and the event is a meeting of agents at Lidingöbro restaurant. Samarbete had been selling life insurance for five years. The merger with Folket in 1914 brought with it the possibility of also offering life insurance to ordinary people. August Vilhelm Söderbom photographed in Folksam s premises Kungsgatan 5 in 1924.
13 22 kronor, which they achieved in just a couple of years. After the Cooperative Union general meeting, the representatives put their shoulders to the wheel and signedup insurance policies at all the meetings they attended. No great amounts came in but there were numerous meetings, and an abundance of members, and the reps were diligent and devoted to the concept. At the end of the first year, 6,000 fire insurance policies had been signed and within a couple of years they had their two million. It took three years for the proposed home contents insurance to become reality is the year that Parliament voted by a small majority to reject a bill to restrict freedom of the press, aimed mainly at trade unions. Ellen Key campaigned for laws to make marriage more equal between the partners and for less complicated divorce procedures. It is also the year when the National Union of Swedish Shopkeepers was formed with the aim of opposing peddling, and the ever-expanding cooperative movement. On May 10, 1908 the Ömsesidiga Brandförsäkringsföreningen Samarbete (the Mutual Fire Insurance Society) held its inaugural meeting at the People s Hall in Stockholm with 60 or so delegates from all over the country. In popular parlance the society soon became known as Samarbete. Samarbete s first licence was for insuring personal property against fire. Nothing else. It was not until 1925 that the licence was extended to include other forms of property insurance. The first year was a constant struggle. Not even the Trade Union Confederation was fully convinced of the merits of a cooperative insurance company. The insurance sector trade journal, Gjallarhornet, wrote the following about the upstart Samarbete in December 1908: This small company displays courage and confidence that would command respect were it not for their complete ignorance as to the workings of the industry. A condescending pat on the back. But when the upstart stubbornly sets its sights on survival and refuses to lie down and die as expected by the sector, the tone sharpened somewhat. The upstart was now a serious competitor and a real threat. Samarbete had hardly got its feet wet when it was time for the next branch of the cooperative insurance family tree. Sveriges Praktiska Livförsäkringsanstalt Folket (the People s Life Insurance Institute) saw the light of day in 1914 and the two sisters, Samarbete and Folket, spent their childhood in a time of depression and crises. In summer 1914, a shot resounds in Sarajevo and within a few months the world is at war. In Sweden, the wine and spirits ration book is introduced. We are not involved in the war, but neither are we immune to the hard times brought in its wake. When peace finally arrived in 1918 it brought with it the Spanish Flu. Millions died in Europe. In Sweden alone it claimed 40,000 lives, with the newly formed life insurance company Folket almost becoming one of its victims to 1939 was a period of building. The Swedish popular movements strove to create a new and improved society for the masses, a society that was more secure and with greater equality between the genders. Samarbete and Folket perceived their roles as fulfilling vital functions in that task. There had always been close collaboration with the trade union movement, but it was now closer than ever. Collective insurance in collaboration with the trade unions had previously been discussed, but for many people it was a red rag to a bull. However, Folksam, which would not be called that officially for many years to come, saw the rational thinking behind collective insurance for people on small incomes. In 1925, Samarbete introduced collective accident insurance as supplementary to the existing statutory, but insufficient, workplace accident insurance. The concept became reality and was an immediate success. Within a few months, 80,000 workers had joined. Fifteen years later it covered more than half a million people, and by the early 1960s the figure had risen to over 3.5 million. This was low-cost protection for the weaker groups in society, those with limited prospects of saving money. This in itself was perhaps why they had an even greater need for life insurance. In due course a life insurance policy was introduced and it got off to a flying start. Within less than 20 years, more than 1.5 million people were covered by group life insurance. The Gjallarhornet trade journal was gradually laid to rest on the heap of discarded journals and newspapers but the cooperative insurance concept lived on through the wars and crises. As the dark shadow of World War II descended on Europe in 1939, Samarbete had just become 39 years old and it was plain to see that the company had a pretty shrewd idea as to the workings of the industry. Kungsgatan 5 in the mid 1990s. The long-lived store Myrstedts Matthörna has now gone. Folksam stills owns the building.
14 Above: K. Eriksson photographed in Below: K. Eriksson was always known as K. As a young man he was editor of Örebro-Kuriren, or perhaps Social Demokratin. Became the second director of Folket in From 1924 until retiring in 1945 he was president and MD of both Folket and Samarbete. Left: Was the 1924 addressing machine dust-sensitive? Was humidity a problem? Did it chew off ties and fingers if one was careless or was it just at the cutting edge of modern technology? Below left: First in the register of Samarbete s first policyholders is Julius Jönsson and a bit further down the list are two other recognisable names. AV Söderbom, ombudsman who became Samarbete s first MD, and Editor M Sundell. Perfect rows of heavy darkwood desks on which stand inkpots and steel nib pens, manual calculators and the odd typewriter. Bare surfaces and earnest countenances. The telephonist in a glass booth. To protect her or the cord-operated switchboard? A glimpse of the work environment at Folket Samarbete in the late 1920s/early 1930s.
15 More than just insurance Not just any insurance company. With roots deep in the Swedish popular movement it was clear from the outset that Folksam would be something other than just another insurance company. The company was a part of a movement, set up to fulfil the mass need for simple and cheap insurance solutions for people who would never otherwise have access to such protection. It was something other than a strictly company perspective. Something more. Folksam was a company that would take part in building a society. World War II was over. Sweden had once again avoided getting embroiled in war but had clearly felt the threat, the cold winds and the darkness. A nagging insecurity about the future had also plagued us. Now, with the rest of Europe, we were able to look up, throw off the shackles, breath out and begin to plan for the future. It was a youthful time, a time for optimism. A time to ponder and build anew. A whole new society was being created in which Folksam would play an active part. A lot of things had stood still during the war and the insurance sector was not alone in getting stuck in a rut. Powerful voices were heard advocating nationalisation of, if not all, then certain parts of the insurance sector. Not just one but two government inquiries looked into the issue. The situation was wonderfully illustrated in a caricature of Folksam s managing director as a lone seaman in a small rowing boat on the open sea surrounded by the mines of socialism. Folksam chose to grab the oars and row against the tide. In February 1946 they brought things to a head in a nationwide campaign entitled Bring Things to a Head. The company declared that it was greatly reducing premiums for residential property and personal property, brushing aside a knotted system of discounts in the process. Tariffs and rates were designed so that everybody could understand them. It was a daring move and the reaction was not long in coming. Folksam s competitors were not happy. The trade press, in the spirit of the time, spoke of Hitler-style and Pearl Harbour attacks. Terms like market adjustment, product development, target group expansion, etc. may not have been invented back then but they nevertheless seemed to be in the thoughts of Folksam s management team. The company pressed on during these years, forcing through one improvement after the other. Folksam removed multiyear contracts. Competitors grumbled but followed suit before the law finally put a stop to such contracts. Vehicle liability insurance included a bonus agreement that was an obstacle to competition. Those who changed insurance companies lost part of their bonus, and because 27 An insurance company, at least in eyes of Folksam, would fail in its duty if it were to pursue insurancerelated matters only. From the 1958 jubilee booklet A Half Century with Folksam Opposite page: He led the country with a safe pair of hands, Prime Minister Tage Erlander, but he does appear somewhat insecure in the role of keep fit instructor dressed in a suit with hands on hips. The year is 1967 and the gymnasts are the HP Boys, a group of MPs who had the privilege of using Folksam s excellent facilities. Above: Then, as now, it was about being seen and reaching out with your message through all available channels. From the back of a Coop lorry the message was loud and clear: every third Swede was insured by Folksam. The year was 1958.
16 28 The 4M campaign: Man, Milieu, Machine and Motion. The environmental perspective included the work environment on a broad front. For basic cleaning, the housekeeper probably prefers a scrubbing brush and floor cloth was the message in the original picture caption. the premiums were the same for everyone, nobody could change insurance companies without losing their bonus. Folksam pursued the issue and the system was changed to allow bonuses to be transferred to the new company. As the world changed, so did our needs and our dreams. In these new times an insurance company for the people had to follow developments, perceive opportunities and the new markets that would need to be opened. In these first post-war years, the foundation was laid for Folksam s rapid expansion in the 1950s and 60s. As society modernised, so did the view of the family. The housewife, who had come into being a few decades earlier, was already a dying species. Women acquired education and jobs, and childcare facilities began to be expanded. The teenager saw the light of day dressed in blue jeans rocking around the clock with Bill Haley and his Comets. Parents insurance took over from breadwinner s insurance as an expression of the new times. Not many years previously the father had been the sole insurance holder. The first parent s insurance now arrived and it was not long before the whole family was insured. Householders comprehensive insurance was quickly followed by house insurance and weekend cottage insurance. The car became a normal household possession. By and by came the full value guarantee, which removed the risk of under-insurance. And so it continued. With one ear to the ground as the new times forged ahead, Folksam kept tabs on where the journey was heading. Other companies followed suit, often amid loud rumblings. The 1960s began with the supplementary pension scheme (atp). This was a decade in which Sweden was built up and rebuilt. Social reforms and welfare systems, municipal mergers, pedestrian malls and town centres. We got public health insurance. Private life insurance sold poorly. Perhaps we were insured to the hilt? No, that wasn t it, as legal expenses insurance illustrated. Up to now, only the very wealthy and the destitute could protect their rights in court; the wealthy could afford to pay their own legal expenses while the destitute received legal aid. Ordinary wage earners did not stand a chance. Until Folksam introduced an insurance policy to cover that need. New thinking was required along with insurance companies changing their profile. That which appeared on the horizon when all other needs were covered by group insurances, social insurance, unemployment in- Parent insurance replaced the old breadwinner insurance in the 1950s. Who could resist falling in love, getting married and becoming a parent and, more importantly, taking out a policy with Folksam after seeing this exquisite poster?
17 Drastic, dramatic and very decorative. Folksam s advertising posters have always had great artistic value and are classics of their genre. surance, and society s other assurance systems, was the savings market. Our welfare had increased rapidly. Folksam s traditional customers suddenly had more than just the bare necessities; the possibility arose of thinking in new financial terms. A new term was invented: the Affluent Society. The question was how we wanted to utilise the surplus. Folksam s marketing made the link between security and savings. Security and savings, a mantra. The expression take out a life insurance policy became save in a life insurance. A bit of money in the bank was not unusual, or even a life insurance policy, but shares? Hardly. Unit trusts became the new thing. They produced a good yield with a secure allocation of risk. And a further innovation could be offered: administration, the insurance company eased into the bank s traditional area. People who received compensation from their insurance policy would need help to manage the capital. Insurance, bank deposits and shares were three steps towards saving. Of the three good things we choose all three, wrote Folksam. Insurance is a good thing. Not needing to claim on it is even better. This was one of the basic concepts behind more than just insurance. A strong and broad-based investment in preventive measures. A large and influential insurance company would naturally use its knowledge and experience to prevent claims. In the early 1960s a car repair workshop opened in Växjö, the predecessor to Folksam Auto. As usual, murmuring was heard from the competitors and the motor industry was also clearly sceptical. But Folksam s concept was not to compete other workshops out of the market. It was a research and development workshop that, 40 years on, all self-respecting large companies have. But back then it was unique. The workshop investigates everything from working environment issues in workshops to injuries caused by traffic accidents. All with the aim of learning and preventing. How did the accident happen? What happened to the driver and passengers? What would have happened if? Technical data formed the basis of new products, new working methods and new legislation. The business earned admiration and respect, even internationally. In the 1950s, when it was still possible to see celebrities smoking cigarettes in newspaper ads, Folksam took part in a campaign that was almost contemporary in its style. Public Health Year began in Today we are well aware of the risks of stress, too little exercise, too much and too fatty food. We jog as members of a popular movement, take part in the Vasa skiing race, have an annual membership card at a gym and follow dietary trends. In the 1950s the health concept was almost unheard of. The Public Health campaign was chiefly financed by Folksam and implemented in collaboration with the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (lo), the Confederation of Professional Employees (tco), and Korpen the Swedish Sport for All Association. It was forward-thinking and the first of many similar campaigns over the years. Once damage had been done it would not just be a question of paying the claim. This was another basic concept behind more than just insurance. In the 1950s, Folksam s Rehabilitation Council was formed, made up of trade union representatives, medical experts and other parties. Folksam has always placed its insurance policies in a larger social context as part of a political stance towards insurance. It is more than just insurance. And more than just words. 31
18 Health and personal responsibility in the form of exercise has been a recurrent message in Folksam s campaigns over the years. Your health is in your own hands, with LO, TCO and Korpen, is a prime example.
19 Just settling claims and paying has never been Folksam s forté. The company utilised its knowledge and experience at a very early stage to reduce the number of traffic accidents and minimise injuries and damage. One of many examples is the annual test of the roadworthiness of various car makes. The findings attract interest, foreboding and expectation.
20 The new head office would be a bastion of health. Typewriters had become electronic, office chairs ergonomic and plenty of light streamed in through the windows. The typists are in the middle of a workout. This time footballer Hasse Tvilling takes on the role of instructor, wrote evening newspaper Expressen on the day of the opening ceremony on May 26, 1960.
21 There have been many campaigns and quite a few posters over the years. Which cat poster is the best ad? Which best puts across the Folksam message? To get the answer to that question a poster stall was set up in the reception hall to give Foksam staff the opportunity to vote. Folksam s cat poster from 1952 (only a cat has 9 lives) should become a classic and be used on advertising courses, wrote the journal Affärsekonomi at the time. Sure enough, it became a classic.
22 Inventive, dramatic, beautiful, artistic, provocative and the occasional literal interpretation. All that and a little more could be said of all Folksam posters. The concept of a child in the shape of a plant needing water (who waters your plants when you re away?) as a symbol of insurance has been used several times by Folksam over the years. One day an elderly woman phoned the company asking for help watering her plants when she was away.
23 The Landmark at Skanstull It would be interesting to know what she was thinking, Miss Sigrid Åberg. In the pictures from Ascension Day 1960 she is sitting in the front row among the other guests assembled in the hall to listen to Prime Minister Tage Erlander. She is a proper lady, elegantly dressed in suit and hat; the kind of lady who lived on well into the 1960s. Sigrid looks solemn, and rightly so, touched by the gravity of the moment. It is the opening ceremony of Folksam s new headquarters, the skyscraper at Skanstull. Surrounding her are current and former managing directors, the head of the Trade Union Confederation, cabinet ministers and local councillors. In front of her stands the Prime Minister, behind her the light and airy hall is chock-a-block with guests and employees. It would be reasonable to assume that her thoughts were dwelling on when it all started. Sigrid Åberg was there in 1908 when Folksam drew its very first breath. She and August Vilhelm Strömbom were the first two employees of the home contents insurance establishment Samarbete. She mostly went under her initials, AV, had the title of ombudsman and was the first in a long line of office clerks, an occupational category that was destined to gradually fade away. Back then, in the inaugural year of 1908, all the office space needed was that afforded by the room rented in the Cooperative Union s head office on Vasagatan. The workforce of two had one heavy, dark brown desk each on which they carried out their tasks manually under the feeble glow of a cobbler s lamp. For a small fee, Sigrid and August Vilhelm were even allowed to use the Coop telephone. But back to 1960 and the new Folksam headquarters, so grand and proud, nestling among homes, industries, allotments and schools. The building rose up 27 storeys above ground and four below. Its 7,100 square metres of white marble façade glistened from far afield. The 2,800 windows were given bright blue Gustavsberg enamel backs in the same shade as Folksam s blue logo that sat like an explanation mark high up on the façade. Today 43 We envisage the Folksam building becoming a forum in which our cultural idiom is groomed, maintained and enriched, and where the message and flame of social responsibility and human kindness is kept alive. Managing Director Seved Apelqvist from the preface of The Building at Skanstull (1960) Opposite page: Prime Minister Tage Erlander speaks at the opening ceremony on May 26, Among the guests sitting in the first row is Folksam s first clerk, Sigrid Ågren in a hat with a bouquet on her lap, employed in Above: a remarkable building. The model of Architects Nils-Einer Eriksson s and Tyngve Tegner s creation attracted a great deal of attention at the opening ceremony. The model can still be viewed in the foyer.
24 44 the company has a new logo in a designer font. A strong brand, an easily recognisable logo designed to put across the company s core values: security, empathy, commitment, professionalism. And it was beautiful. The building was close to everything, close to the people. It had already become Skanstull s very own landmark. Like Hötorget with its skyscrapers, Gullmarsplan with its Globe Arena, Medborgarplatsen with its Inland Revenue skyscraper. Landmarks are built to be seen and to take up a position in the geographic location as well as in people s minds. The latter is particularly important. The building was to create an innovative environment. That is what Managing Director Seved Apelqvist had in mind. A building that inspired good ideas and where people could work and progress. Not only a place of work but a place in which to thrive and feel at home. That was the concept: no well-being, no job satisfaction, no job satisfaction, no efficiency. It would be nice to think that Sigrid Åberg felt at home where she sat in the hall next to Barbro Nilsson s beautiful two-storey tapestries. The high and airy hall was light years away from her office at Samarbete. Hopefully she saw that the Folksam concept was being well nurtured in the grand but homely headquarters at Skanstull in 1960, more than 50 years after she began working for the company. And similarly, one would really like to think that Seved Apelqvist liked what he saw on this day. The issue of a new headquarters was high on the agenda when Apelqvist took up the company oars to become MD in The Coop office space had become inadequate and in , the Kungsgatan 5 property was acquired, a 6-storey stone building in central Stockholm. A large neon sign was installed on the façade Folket Samarbete. It was to become Folksam s headquarters for 37 years but had outgrown its use long before the Skanstull building came along. When the furniture removal vans began their trip to Bohusgatan, they did not only come from one place. Folksam was located in 15 or so different places around Stockholm. With the help of the Finance Manager Joel Eriksson, Seved Apelqvist pursued the building of an ample new headquarters from concept to the first shovelfull, and took part in designing the smallest detail of the building. Today he would see a building that has been lovingly nurtured and piously restored, a child of its time that is far from being a museum. A skyscraper that is outlandishly homely for its size. The two most eager advocates of the Folksam building, MD Seved Apelqvist and Finance Manager Joel Persson, inspect the construction, which is quite far advanced. It took eight years from concept to construction start. On November 1, 1954 the first spade entered the ground of the Tullträdgården block. Just over a month later the earth in the old backyard had been carted away and the bedrock opened to the heavens. They blasted deep down into the rock to make room for four storeys of basements. A total of 31,000 square metres that would later house an underground garage, archives, a print works and a keep fit centre. Terminology was different in the 1950s. The term keep fit probably did not exist, along with a number of other healthy activities that we have words for today. But the need existed and the newly built gym and swimming pool were not just to be admired. They would contribute to contentment and good health in the same way as the modern cafeterias and the excellent food they served. The restaurant wing was completed in 1957, the same year as the world followed Russian space dog Laika s orbit around the earth. Once at ground level the Folksam building grew rap- Opposite page: Author and Illustrator Stig Claesson Slas created a series of Södermalm motifs commissioned by Folksam. The Folksam building at Skanstull was a natural choice.