FinTechGermany Award 2019

FinTechGermany Award “Golden Garage” honours outstanding FinTech companies in the Financial Centre Frankfurt

With the leading investor award for start-ups, the Financial Centre Frankfurt honours outstanding FinTech companies in six different categories. The jury’s vote went to AUTHADA GmbH in the Seed/Early Stage category and to Barzahlen – Cash Payment Solutions GmbH in the Late Stage Category, while solarisBank AG received the prize for the best FinTech in the Growth Stage category. TransferWise Ltd. was voted the Best Foreign FinTech on the German market. The special prize for the best PropTech was awarded to Exporo AG, while Wefox Germany GmbH was honoured in the special InsurTech category.

The organisers, Börsen-Zeitung (WM Group), Business Angels Frankfurt RheinMain, Frankfurt Main Finance and TechFluence, have now presented the FinTechGermany Award to high-potential FinTech companies for the fifth time. “Our ‘Golden Garage’ award offers young entrepreneurs, in particular, the opportunity to enter into dialogue with FinTech insiders and financial centre representatives and expand their network. We are pleased to be able to offer this platform for the fifth time,” says Dr. Jens Zinke, Managing Director of the Börsen-Zeitung. Andreas Lukic, Chairman of Business Angels Frankfurt RheinMain comments: “We award the prize to the best FinTech, InsurTech and PropTech companies, whose innovative business models and new technologies create value and transform the financial sector. At the same time, the Financial Centre Frankfurt offers the entire financing chain for start-ups – from their foundation and time of growth until they become established.” Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance says: “Cooperation between FinTechs and the established players in the financial centre is the key to future success. The FinTechGermany Award creates the platform to make this possible.” And Michael Mellinghoff, Managing Director at TechFluence UK, adds: “In awarding this prize, we above all support start-ups with promising FinTech concepts, while at the same time increasing their visibility on the German market.”

The focus of the sixteen-strong jury was on the companies’ financial viability, scalability and exit capability. Among other things, they evaluated the business concept, competitive advantages, positioning, financial plan and management. The “Seed/Early Stage” category comprises FinTechs with no or only initial revenues, and with no or only a basic prototype. Companies with at least cumulative six-digit revenues were able to apply for the “Late Stage” category. The prerequisites for an award in the “Growth Stage” category were a more than seven-digit turnover and international expansion. Günter Rothenberger, the founder of Günter Rothenberger Industries GmbH and inventor of the R-System, donated the six perpetual trophies in the form of gold-plated water pump pliers mounted on American oak.

Andreas Plies, managing director of AUTHADA GmbH, stated: “The prize is not just for us alone, but for the entire company. It’s nice to have your work recognised.” Ulrike Czekay, Head of PR & Marketing at Barzahlen – Cash Payment Solution GmbH, aims to begin with the payment infrastructure and “dispel customers’ fear of digitisation and offer new possibilities.” Jörg Diewald, Chief Commercial Officer at solarisBank AG, announced, “Our Sales division is growing, and we are desperately looking for new employees to meet our customer needs.” Thomas Adamski, European PR Manager at TransferWise Ltd, was delighted with his trophy, “Our foremost concern is to help people and enable them to drastically reduce the cost of foreign bank transfers. Especially in such a large and active market as FinTech, I am immensely grateful that the scene is very open to new alternatives. I am delighted to be here and get to know all the nice people from the different areas.” Botho von Hülsen, Senior Manager at Exporo AG, commented that “A lot of construction is taking place in Germany, and fund packages can also be purchased from us in the form of products consisting of existing properties.  Our digitalisation rollout is initially planned for France and the Netherlands, as the economic performance of these countries can be easily assessed.” John Shewell, Head of Group Marketing & Communications at Wefox Germany GmbH, felt honoured by the golden garage trophy and expressed that “It is a privilege to be here tonight. At the same time, it is also an honour for all tech start-ups to have the opportunity to transform the financial industry. We want to make insurance easy and convenient for our customers.”

 

Frankfurt Main Finance wins five new members for the Financial Centre Initiative

Frankfurt am Main – The Financial Centre Initiative Frankfurt Main Finance e. V. welcomes five new members, growing its ranks to 64. Bloomberg L.P., Consileon Business Consultancy GmbH, Moody´s Deutschland GmbH, Refinitiv and Schalast & Partner Rechtsanwälte mbB join the initiative as sustaining members.

Through their membership, the representatives from academia, the financial industry, public administration and the up-and-coming FinTech sector express their solidarity with the Financial Centre, take up current topics of the finance sector and demonstrate their commitment to the growing domestic and international importance of the Financial Centre Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region.

“We warmly welcome our new members and their commitment to the Financial Centre Frankfurt. With each new member, the affiliation with Frankfurt Main Finance becomes more attractive for existing members as well, and the voice of the Financial Centre gains significance,” says Dr. Lutz Raettig, President of Frankfurt Main Finance. “Through our growth, we can offer a diverse industry network, the efficiency of which also benefits the Financial Centre. The steady growth is a recognition of our daily efforts to represent and position the Financial Centre around the world.”

New member Bloomberg L.P. is the world’s leading provider of financial information and financial news. “Frankfurt is our largest location in continental Europe. Membership of Frankfurt Main Finance expresses our commitment to this important and growing Financial Centre, and we look forward to the collaboration with the other members of the initiative. As a global company with 176 locations around the world, we are particularly keen to contribute to furthering Frankfurt’s international network,” says Friederike von Tiesenhausen, Head of External Relations DACH Bloomberg L.P.

Dr. Joachim Schü, Managing Partner of Consileon Business Consultancy GmbH, said concerning his company’s accession to Frankfurt Main Finance e.V.: “Especially with the successive decline of London’s importance as a Financial Centre due to Brexit, Frankfurt’s importance as a strong economic area and centre of European monetary policy is increasing considerably. By becoming a member of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V., we are clearly committed to Frankfurt as a business location, which is underscored by the recent relocation of our Frankfurt office to the heart of the city. We hope to contribute all our finance sector expertise to the association and are looking forward to the exchange with other members and stakeholders.” With Consileon Frankfurt GmbH and syracom AG, the Consileon Group bundles considerable expertise to advise banks, insurance companies, FinTechs and other financial service providers.

Carl-Johan von Uexküll, Managing Director Germany & Switzerland at Refinitiv, confirms: “With our membership in Frankfurt Main Finance, we are demonstrating our confidence in the Financial Centre Frankfurt. At the same time, we want to actively contribute to the positive development of the city and we look forward to the exchange with all other financial market actors in Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region with optimism and enthusiasm.”

Dr. Andreas Walter, Partner and Head of Banking & Finance at Schalast, says, “We see ourselves as a deeply rooted part of the culture of the city of Frankfurt am Main, the most important continental European Financial Centre. Against this backdrop, we are particularly happy and proud that, in addition to advising numerous companies already based in Frankfurt, we have been able to support many foreign companies in the financial industry in opening and establishing their German or European headquarters in Frankfurt. Precisely because banking supervisory issues are, from a legal perspective, coming increasingly to the forefront and FinTech companies from all over the world are interested in Frankfurt, we are all the more pleased to become a formal part of Frankfurt Main Finance.”

“Frankfurt has great potential for many major companies.”

Kirsty Sharp, Headteacher of King’s College – The British School Frankfurt

At the beginning of the year, we welcomed King’s College – The British School of Frankfurt as one of our newest Frankfurt Main Finance members. In an interview with Headteacher Kirsty Sharp, we discuss why they joined the Financial Centre Initiative and where she sees the strengths of the Financial Centre Frankfurt.

Why join FMF as a supporter of the Financial Centre Frankfurt?

King’s College – The British School of Frankfurt was opened as the 10th school of the King’s Group in August 2018 in Friedrichsdorf, 20 km north of downtown. Our schools have historically worked closely with international companies, diplomatic missions and institutions to learn more about educational needs locally. Across its schools, the King’s Group currently has students from more than 80 nations, providing us with a wealth of experience in teaching students from different cultures and backgrounds. Relative to the forthcoming Brexit, as a member of FMF we would offer support to families interested in British curriculum arriving new to the region.

How does Kings College contribute to the development of the Financial Centre Frankfurt?

A British school is present in most major cities and is an integral part of an international educational culture. A wide range of internationally oriented schools is vital to the attractiveness of a metropolis in providing a convincing infrastructure for global companies, their employees and families. With King’s College Frankfurt, the city now offers a British school of international renown, with sufficient capacity for up to 600 students in a state-of-the-art campus easily accessible to the Financial Centre and residential areas.

Where do you see the strengths of the Financial Centre?

Frankfurt – a strong economic area and centre of European monetary policy – is a very attractive location for international companies, especially banks. Due to the international airport, its geographical location as the cosmopolitan heart of Europe and the close-to-nature surroundings, Frankfurt has great potential for many major companies.

As a Spanish/British company recently established in Germany, the King’s Group finds the often cited ‘German thoroughness’ and interaction with public, fiscal and infrastructural official facilities very positive, transparent, and requirements are easy and quick to implement. We have received excellent support from many sources in all areas, so that in a very short time, our institution and all employees here in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region feel welcome and as part of the community

Football in the heart of Europe – FMF and Eintracht host Frankfurt’s newest bankers

An exciting game, an impressive choreography, rousing atmosphere and great conversations. Frankfurt Main Finance and Eintracht Frankfurt invited Brexit newcomers for football in the heart of Europe: an event with the aim not only to introduce the newcomers to the financial centre community, but also to convey a piece of Frankfurt’s attitude to life, to demonstrate the city’s pragmatic approach, its willingness and its ability to perform.

The first leg of the UEFA Europa League round of sixteen brought Eintracht against Inter Milan for an exciting 90 minutes. The Frankfurt side was particularly convincing in the second half, with several close chances to take the lead. The exciting atmosphere was certainly not reserved to just the pitch or the singing choral of fans packed into Commerzbank Arena’s northwest curve, but soon also overtook the newcomers at the event, which was held in the arena’s Business Club for the second time in this format.

The first edition of the event, held in November 2018 when Eintracht faced off against Marseille, was a complete success – on and off the pitch. Therefore, the sponsors for the second event quick to find. The second round featured many of the same as the first, which shows how well the format was received. Frankfurt Main Finance and Eintracht Frankfurt would like to thank Deutsche Börse AG, White & Case LLP and Drooms GmbH and Meltwater Deutschland for their commitment and support in making this event possible.

“Predominantly rational reasons have persuaded companies to relocate to the Main Metropolis. As an Eintracht family, we try to bring the people behind these institutions together and to inspire enthusiasm for our region. The electric atmosphere in the stadium is exactly the right backdrop for this. This turns the head’s decision into the heart’s decision for Frankfurt. Because Eintracht Frankfurt plays in the heart of Europe,” says Axel Hellmann, member of the board of Eintracht Frankfurt Fußball AG.

Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance and himself a lifelong member of Eintracht said, “Football and the Financial Centre Frankfurt belong close together. We want to show how easy it is to arrive in Frankfurt and belong to it. Frankfurt is cosmopolitan. It is the city of short distances, communicative and full of joie de vivre.”

“The importance of the location for financial institutions and their extended ecosystem is beyond question.”

Frankfurt Main Finance (FMF) continues to grow! In an interview, information service & technology provider Wolter Kluwers | CCH® Tagetik, one of FMF’s newest members, explains why they joined the Financial Centre Initiative at the beginning of the year and where it sees the strengths of the Financial Centre Frankfurt.

Why do your company support the Financial Centre Frankfurt as a member of FMF?

The Financial Centre Frankfurt is of great importance to our clients; thus, we would like to promote it in the best possible way in line with our clients’ interests. We see this as a win-win situation for both sides: On one hand we support the Financial Centre Frankfurt with our expert knowledge and at the same time make our brand better known in the Frankfurt area.

Active participation in Frankfurt Main Finance also puts us in a position to maintain even closer and more sustainable partnerships with other partners in Frankfurt and to exchange information on opportunities and challenges in the Financial Centre.

How does your company contribute to the development of the Financial Centre Frankfurt?

By actively participating as an IT solutions provider in FMF, we would like to make our diverse process and digitisation knowledge in the financial sector available to companies in and around Frankfurt. We also believe that through our complementary network, we can provide great additional value for the FMF community, from which all members will benefit, and the Financial Centre Frankfurt will be supported.

Where do you see the strengths of the Financial Centre Frankfurt? What can be improved?

The importance of the location for financial institutions and their extended ecosystem is beyond question, Frankfurt is a world-renowned Financial Centre. The cultural diversity is strong, but its degree of popularity can be expanded across countries. The Financial Centre Frankfurt is already an emerging digital hub, which can boast many well-known – especially medium-sized – IT companies. As an IT company, however, we still see potential to make this aspect even more visible to and for the city and region.

At home in Europe – FMF and Eintracht welcome Frankfurt’s newest banks

FMF welcomes Brexit agreement – Relocation of €750 to 800 billion in assets to Frankfurt expected

The Financial Centre initiative Frankfurt Main Finance (FMF) welcomes the agreement reached last weekend between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK). For it provides much more clarity, albeit not yet definitive. FMF also hopes, in the interests of all concerned, that the British Parliament will ratify the treaty on 11 December. However, a ratification is not certain, and a hard Brexit has not yet been averted. In addition, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will have to decide whether Article 50 can be revoked before the end of its deadline. Thus, there is still hope that the UK could remain if the ruling of the European Court of Justice confirms this. Still, the probability is rather low.

“This makes it clear for financial institutions that the Brexit is coming. While it has become somewhat less likely, the extreme scenario of a hard Brexit without a deal in place cannot be ruled out due to the uncertain majority in the British Parliament. On the other hand, it cannot be completely ruled out that the UK will remain in the EU, but this should be regarded as highly unlikely. The path is now set for the financial institutions. The Brexit plans are being implemented,” says Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance.

Based on a speech by Danièle Nouy, President of the Single Supervisory Mechanism of the European Central Bank (ECB), we know that 37 financial institutions, banks and securities trading banks have applied to the ECB for new licences or extended existing ones and have already received them or are likely to receive them shortly.

30 of these institutions have chosen the Financial Centre Frankfurt for their European headquarters. Since several of the banks will establish branches in multiple locations, FMF believes the actual figures will ultimately add up to more than the 37 mentioned by Ms Nouy. However, Frankfurt also benefits from this distribution since around half a dozen financial institutions that have opted for locations in other EU countries are nevertheless significantly expanding their presence in Frankfurt.

“All in all, we expect a transfer of 750 to 800 billion Euros in assets from London to Frankfurt, the majority of which will be transferred in the first quarter of 2019,” says Väth. “It will not remain that way.”

“As it currently stands, banks face the decision of either relocating only what is absolutely necessary or preparing for the relocation of their entire business,” Väth continues. The institutions have found different answers to this question. “As long as uncertainty persists, most institutions are likely to prefer the minimum solution. In any case, it is clear that considerable second-round effects will follow.”

FMF sees the bill to relax dismissals protections for high-income risk carriers as an important step. “Politicians made promises and delivered on them. Internationally, this is being observed very closely as it shows that the Financial Centre is being supported.”

“Accordingly, Frankfurt Main Finance believes that the second-round effects will be significant. We stand by the potential of up to 10,000 jobs moving to Frankfurt which we estimated on day 1 after the Brexit referendum. However, there are signs of a second transition phase, which is expected to last until the end of 2022, and thus a further delay. The originally expected 5 years for the relocation of jobs from the time of the referendum in June 2016 will now become 8 years.”

A significant factor in financial institutions’ decision to relocate business to the Financial Centre Frankfurt was the willingness signalled by German politicians to reconsider the issue of labour protection for risk carriers. Following its inclusion in the coalition agreements, the draft law, which is tailored specifically to risk carriers, is being consulted in the ministries. “Politicians have listened, promised and delivered,” says Väth. “This is a clear sign that the banks’ relocation to Germany is desired. It is a sign that is seen and appreciated.”

Frankfurt Main Finance continues to grow: six new members join the Financial Centre initiative

Frankfurt am Main – The financial centre initiative Frankfurt Main Finance is proud to welcome six new members, raising the membership number to 60. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), The Boston Consulting Group, CBRE GmbH, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management and Norton Rose Fulbright LLP join as sustaining members. In addition, Werthstein GmbH joins as a FinTech member.

Frankfurt Main Finance leverages the influence of its now 60 members –  representatives from Frankfurt’s financial sector, research institutes, public administration and the flourishing FinTech sector –  to advocate for the Financial Centre Frankfurt and provide high-calibre dialogue platforms. Through their membership and engagement, all members demonstrate their close relationship to Frankfurt and desire to position Frankfurt amongst the top international financial centres.

We are excited to welcome the new members. Their commitment to the Financial Centre Frankfurt and our continuous growth in membership reflects a high recognition for our daily efforts to represent and position the Financial Centre internationally,” says Dr. Lutz Raettig, President of Frankfurt Main Finance. “This growth strengthens the association and lends more power to our voice – a benefit for all members. In turn, we also provide fast, direct access to a prominent industry network.

The new member PwC is active in the areas of assurance, advisory and tax services with 250,000 employees in 158 countries – including the Financial Centre Frankfurt. “Through our membership in Frankfurt Main Finance, we not only want to strengthen our commitment to Frankfurt as Germany’s leading Financial Centre, but also actively contribute to the local community. The location is developing in a highly dynamic manner. We would like to contribute to this positive development and further strengthening of Frankfurt. For this reason, we look forward to the exchange with the initiative’s members, with universities, banks and all other actors in the Financial Centre Frankfurt,” says Clemens Koch, Head of Financial Services and member of the management board at PwC Germany.

As a trusted partner for all real estate topics, CBRE supports real estate investors and occupiers worldwide. Since 1973, CBRE Germany has been headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. “With our membership, we are very pleased to be able to help support the many advantages of the Financial Centre Frankfurt from the perspective of the real estate industry. Numerous project developments offer ever more modern and innovative office space, allowing the skyline to continue to grow. Despite the decreasing vacancy rate, there is still excellent and representative office space available, even for demands for larger spaces,” explains Carsten Ape, Head of Office Leasing Germany at CBRE.

As Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, we effectively have the Financial Centre in our name. As a business school, we set new standards with excellent research – for example in the fields of artificial intelligence, blockchain or sustainable finance. In addition, on our campus we train the specialists and executives needed to ensure that Frankfurt continues to be innovative and successful. A strong Financial Centre is essential for us, which is why we are committed to Frankfurt Main Finance,” says Professor Dr. Nils Stieglitz, President of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. The research-led business school, accredited by EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB International, offers comprehensive educational programs on finance, business and management topics. Frankfurt School’s Master of Finance is the only finance master offered by a German university in the current Financial Times ranking.

Norton Rose Fulbright LLP is a global law firm providing the world’s preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. “Frankfurt Main Finance is the voice of the Financial Centre Frankfurt. We support the initiative because it effectively positions Frankfurt in national and global competition,” explains Dr. Oliver Sutter, Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

As a digital wealth manager, Werthstein offers its clients the opportunity to develop an individualised portfolio that is broadly diversified in terms of risk aspects and specialised in investments in current economic, technological or social trends. “The financial centre initiative Frankfurt Main Finance stands for the openness to innovation and drive that FinTechs bring to wealth management. That is why we are closely associated with the initiative,” comments Felix Röscheisen, general representative of Werthstein GmbH.

 

Frankfurt Brexit

Highly respected and sought-after contact

Frankfurt Main Finance authentically combines the business and social aspects of the region and financial centre

Roland Koch. Quelle_www.roland-koch.de. Foto_Gaby Gerster.

By Roland Koch, Former Prime Minister of Hesse

Over the past decades, Frankfurt am Main has increasingly developed into the most important financial centre in mainland Europe. This was by no means self-evident. Looking back over the same time period, Munich, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf had also their sights set on this role. However, the concentration of financial institutions and European consolidation have led to the finance providers now forming clusters on the River Main. The current developments surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union will reinforce this development.

The initiative launched in 2008 by the Frankfurt-based banks and the policymakers in the City and region to create an independent mouthpiece for this key sector was all the more significant against this background. It was not intended as competition to the boards of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce or the banking association, but rather to establish an independent position for the people representing the so-called financial sector in a broader sense. This was not only in the interests of the policy-makers, who were seeking a neutral platform of dialogue, but also of the economic sector, which was striving to win over the policy-makers to a common future development through a unified representation overarching the individual positions of different financial institutions and their associations.

 

Essential Role

However, with its foundation also came the awareness that the initiative would be an organisation which could talk convincingly to other financial industry players outside Frankfurt and Germany about the pros and cons of the Frankfurt location. Over the years, the importance of this role has grown as well.

The Frankfurt stakeholders long ago abandoned the illusion of being able to challenge London’s pole position in Europe in terms of the number of jobs and international significance. The difference in size is just too great. However, on the European continent, Frankfurt am Main can easily outrival the competition. One reason is the presence of such important regulators as the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bundesbank and major divisions of Germany’s financial regulatory authority. Another is the internationality of the banks, and also of the City as a result of the airport. However, the comparison with the “City of London Corporation”, the representative body of the London financial centre, clearly still remains a legitimate incentive even today.

“At no time in history have more executives and employees of international banks been looking at the same time for a location in Europe as at present. Almost all of these searches end with a clear advantage for Frankfurt.”

For all the people in the companies that have agreed to participate in the Frankfurt initiative, this means additional work. We not only owe it to the president, Dr. Lutz Raettig, and the managing director, Hubertus Väth, who shaped the past decade of the initiative, but also to the many associates in Frankfurt’s society and politics, that Frankfurt Main Finance is today a highly respected and sought-after contact.

At no time in history have more executives and employees of international banks been looking for a location at the same time in Europe as at present. Almost all of these searches end with a clear advantage for Frankfurt. Nevertheless, many people – often too many – are sceptical that the quality of life, infrastructure, training opportunities and banking regulation are really good enough for Frankfurt to win the race. However, it is not all just about facts and figures. Very often it’s people’s life philosophy and experience that count. Frankfurt Main Finance has the extraordinary opportunity of being able to credibly combine the economic and social aspects of the Frankfurt region and financial centre in all presentations.

Now, after a decade, we can safely say that the foundation of such a representative organ for the financial industry in Frankfurt was right and important. We can certainly also say after ten years that the sustainability of the initiative founded at that time has been proven. On this sound foundation, it now is entering the next decade. And this decade too will be marked by challenges posed by national legislation, regional activities and the industry itself.

“Now, after a decade, we can safely say that the foundation of such a representative organ for the financial industry in Frankfurt was right and important. We can certainly also say after ten years that the sustainability of initiative founded at that time has been proven.”

Germany is still in a situation where the earnings of banks clearly lag behind those in other European countries. This will lead to cost savings, staff reductions and site closures. For the financial centre, with all the global and regional headquarters, this can certainly prove to be a boost. But it will change the demands made on the employees, the salary levels and the service providers located at the domicile of the companies. Without Brexit, a reduction in the number of employees employed in Frankfurt was to be expected, but this could now turn out completely differently.

Increasing Internationality

Regardless of whether there will be more or differently trained employees, their demands on the region will change. Internationality will increase, therefore more international schools will be needed. University education in the region must adapt to the changed remit, particularly in the area of risk management and general bank controlling. The City’s cultural offer also needs to compete with other European metropolises by staging special events to boost the popularity of the region alongside the already existing superb facilities. The financial centre initiative can make a very important contribution by accurately describing the demands that will be made on the region.

From the very beginning, it was not to be underestimated that the initiative’s specific hallmark includes being recognised by savings banks, cooperative banks and private banks alike. As a result, it has also become an initiative that in terms of national legislation can speak on behalf of the whole financial sector beyond the sectoral interests. This contribution is also highly appreciated by the policy-makers in Berlin and Wiesbaden, and there is still room for expansion.

At present, we are dealing with a completely over-regulated industry, which, together with the legislator, is still struggling with the consequences of the last financial crisis. In international competition, good and secure regulation is just as important as the sector’s ability to flexibly change its business models without unnecessarily bureaucratic hurdles and adapt them to the ever-increasing rapidity of the innovation cycle. The current discussion surrounding the amendment of labour legislation to allow a more flexible deployment of by far above-average earners in investment banking could be a touchstone for this.

At the latest since the beginning of this decade, the financial industry has – understandably – no longer been popular. For Frankfurt, however, it is the most decisive vehicle, along with the airport, for prosperity and growth. At the same time, Frankfurt is home to an industry that will inevitably change in pace with rapid technical innovations. And Frankfurt will also be a good place to work for young people, who will shape their world of the future from here. It would be good if the City, the regional policy-makers and the citizens could look upon these companies and their employees with confidence and some pride.

Business and politics need the support of the citizens to create attractive conditions for the financial centre. Frankfurt Main Finance is an important facilitator between all the stakeholders and institutions. The initiative has proven this over the past decade, and this is precisely what will also be expected of it in the future.

 

Financial Centre Initiative Resonates Worldwide

FMF knows how to make use of expertise and appreciation in all matters and interests of the financial industry

Lutz Raettig

By Dr. Lutz Raettig, President of Frankfurt Main Finance

This month, Frankfurt Main Finance (FMF) will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary – not without pride of what has been achieved, not without self-criticism as to what could have been done better, and not without respect for what foreseeably still lies ahead of us – but also with confidence and well-founded and justified hopes.

FMF has now been the voice of the Frankfurt financial centre for a decade. This does not only mean the City of Frankfurt, but the region as a whole. The initiative to establish the association is attributed to former Prime Minister of Hesse Roland Koch and the former Lord Mayor of the City of Frankfurt, Petra Roth. Both wanted to remedy an obvious deficiency. After all, according to a very apt analysis by “Börsen-Zeitung” in August 2008, what was lacking – unlike the situation in France or in Great Britain – was an effective, overarching marketing drive for the national financial centre. Another factor in this important and so vital industry for a highly developed economy like Germany was the lack of an independent and clearly audible mouthpiece.

The purpose of the association, as formulated in its founding charter, logically and primarily was to reinforce Frankfurt’s position and that of the Rhine-Main region as a business centre and, in particular, as a location for financial services in international competition. A task that those responsible have been pursuing over the last ten years and have not lost sight of to this day.

“Frankfurt Main what?” This is how the already mentioned article of this newspaper managed to pinpoint the probably most common response to the question concerning Frankfurt Main Finance – appropriate and provocative in the year of its foundation. Today, ten years later, it can be claimed with all justification, backed up by figures, that the financial centre initiative meets with a worldwide response, is appreciated as a competent contact in all matters relating to the financial industry and knows how to benefit from this for positioning the location as such.

This certainly did not happen automatically. One example: Frankfurt Main Finance was ready when Brexit triggered an absolute storm in the European map of the financial industry literally overnight. In the early hours after the officially announced outcome of the Brexit referendum, of all European financial centre initiatives FMF was the first to raise a response, succeeding in drawing the attention of the world press alone. Interviews were given every quarter of an hour.

This elevated FMF to the position of a highly coveted contact. Until today, FMF has been quoted in over 90 countries in the world in just under 6,500 articles in almost 2,000 different media in connection with Brexit alone. The media equivalent value achieved is in the region of 100 million dollars.

No Simple Task

However, in the early years after its foundation, the task at hand was to establish the association, set up work flows, establish topics and work through the financial crisis. It was important to find resonance at all, to be of relevance and to raise money to this end. This was only possible by broadening the membership base. It is never an easy task to collect private money for the public good. This was even more difficult in our foundation phase.

All of us can recall August 2008: the financial crisis had almost reached its peak with the failure of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers. The financial industry was busy reducing its risks and avoiding expenditure like the plague. Therefore, we are all the more grateful to our members, the twelve founding members and some 50 members who have joined us since. Without them, we certainly would not exist today. Many thanks!

The financial crisis and the course it took laid down the topics not only for the media, but also for FMF. To this day, it is a key interest of the financial centre initiative to regain trust and confidence lost in the financial industry, to draw attention to the indispensable services of the financial sector for the welfare of a state and its societal relevance, as well as to raise interests of budding talents for the industry as such.

Additional topics included the following: first of all, RMB Clearing, then Fintech, Regtech, Insurtech, Legaltech – the settlement, promotion and financing of young start-up enterprises in the region that transfer digitisation to the processes of all these industries. In this way, not least thanks to the efforts of FMF, it was possible to establish Frankfurt as a fintech cluster alongside Berlin, virtually at the very last minute. It goes without saying that the region justified this trust and confidence and has since regained a great deal of lost ground. Whereas at the beginning we were asked whether we knew that fintechs would compete with the established banks, today “Coopetition”, a term combining cooperation and competition, has become quite common: it has a secure future, much like sustainability. We are just as willing to lend the Green Finance Cluster our voice as well as many other invaluable initiatives.

“FMF has now been the voice of the Financial Centre Frankfurt for a decade. This does not only mean the City of Frankfurt, but the region as a whole.”

However, the last two years have been characterised by Brexit, by the possible impacts of Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and, immediately associated with this, the changing role of Frankfurt as the key financial centre within the EU. Brexit brought Frankfurt into direct competition with other financial locations in Europe, after it was clear that London would foreseeably surrender its role as the leading financial capital within the EU. One of the immediate consequences of Brexit was a self-reflection of Frankfurt and the region on the strengths and advantages of the city and its surroundings.

The level of cooperation with the various institutions fostering economic development, with state and municipal policymakers, as well as with consultants, lawyers and other players at this location has become closer and more efficient in recent years. This is beneficial for the work of FMF and the financial centre. An entity that is all too frequently forgotten is the supervisory sector. Yes, it is true to say that German regulators are a strength of this financial centre. The watchdogs are internationally perceived as competent, clear, challenging and reliable.

Despite the financial centre’s well-founded self-confidence, it was a wise decision not to be aggressive or even divisive when it came to competing for the relocation of jobs from the Thames to the Main River. Frankfurt wants to build bridges rather than tear them down. “Welcome to Frankfurt”“ and “Let’s build a new London Bridge” were the mottos of our campaign with which we competed for banks to settle here following Brexit, a process that is still ongoing. This orientation has certainly proved its worth.

A huge success story

Until today, 25 banks have decided to establish or expand business in Frankfurt, and jobs will be next to follow. The importance of the financial metropolis is growing. Undoubtedly a huge success story. However, it is an achievement that needs to be secured and extended if possible. A task in which the FMF will assume its role.

An anniversary is not only an occasion to celebrate, but also an opportunity to say thanks. This expression of gratitude by the FMF goes to all our fellow campaigners and critics. And of course we are also grateful to our football club, Eintracht Frankfurt. With the three Frankfurt Main Finance Cups in the years 2014 to 2016, we succeeded for the very first time in reaching a broader public in the region and – a matter that is close to our hearts – perhaps it was also possible in this context to finally bring the financial centre and the Eintracht a great deal closer again. If our football club now manages to play an enduring leading European role, that would be quite overwhelming. I now wish to close by quoting Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of Frankfurt’s most famous sons: “It’s not enough to want to do something – it also needs to be done.”