Former Londoner has 100 reasons to love the Financial Centre Frankfurt

Why love living in the Financial Centre Frankfurt? Louise Sagar, former Londoner living in Frankfurt, gives plenty of reasons in her Twitter campaign #100ReasonsILoveFrankfurt. In our interview, she explains what brought her to Frankfurt and why she enjoys life in the city so much.

When and why did you move to Frankfurt?

In 2009, I was living in Luxembourg and my work contract was coming to an end. A friend of mine told me there was a translation/editing job vacancy at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. I did not know anything about the institution or the city, but I was open to working and living anywhere so I just applied. When I came to Frankfurt for the interview, I was feeling very carefree – without any preconceptions about Frankfurt or the job. I vividly remember walking across one of the bridges over the Main after the interview, looking at the skyline and thinking: this feels right! I want to work and live here. The job sounded great and I had an immediate connection with the city. Sometimes life takes you right where you should be. I got the job and that is when my life changed forever. I built my kind of life here.

What was your first impression as a Londoner living in the Financial Centre Frankfurt?

I was blown away by how easy everything was. The main thing I recall was how amazed I was that I could walk to work down beautiful, traffic-light streets and along the river – and I could get a cab home from the city centre to my flat for only 7 euros!!! In London, cabs home cost a fortune and nights out were often cut short by getting the last tube home. Moreover, I loved the feel of Frankfurt. It is a city but it is not hectic or oppressive. I would stroll around leafy Sachsenhausen (where I lived then – I’m now a Nordend girl) at the weekend and have a serene feeling. I was in love with the skyline. During the winter of my first year in the city, it snowed a lot and Frankfurt was sparkling. I remember coming out of a club at 4 am or 5 am one weekend morning and discovering a winter wonderland – it had snowed heavily while we were dancing underground. We walked through the snow to the train station Suedbahnhof where we passed a bakery smelling of fresh croissants, and we ate them warm. It seems to me that we have more defined seasons in Frankfurt than in London. Colder in the winter and hotter in the summer. I like that.

What baffled you about the Financial Centre Frankfurt?

I thought it was strange that there is table service in the pubs. In the UK, we all crowd around the bar while here in Frankfurt we sit at tables and wait to be served. I still find this a bit strange actually! It is a more sedate approach to a night out. However, now when I go home to the UK, I find having to wait at the bar for a drink a bit frustrating. It is a bit more sociable though: I think single people are more likely to meet someone stood at the bar. I also felt that I was the loudest person in Frankfurt: when I laughed in a café or restaurant people would turn and look! This still happens 😉 Furthermore, it took me a long time to get used to shops being closed on Sundays… but this is something I now hugely appreciate because of that quiet Sunday feeling.

Obviously, we are a fan of your Twitter series #100ReasonsILoveFrankfurt. What made you start?

At the time there were several articles in the British press saying things like “oh no, after Brexit we will all have to go and live in boring Frankfurt”. This annoyed me as I thought it is such an uninformed viewpoint. I felt fiercely defensive of my city – I  wanted to broadcast to the world how I felt about Frankfurt as an expat living here. All of this was going through my mind and then journalist Tom Barfield (AFP news agency) tweeted a picture of Berger Strasse Fest against a bright blue sky. He wrote “another horrible day in Frankfurt”. This encapsulated everything I felt. I loved it and it was the catalyst for me to start my 100 Reasons.

We know you have #100ReasonsYouLoveFrankfurt, but what are your top three reasons?

This is a really hard question… Number one is easy though: My absolute favourite thing about Frankfurt is the outdoor pools in summer. As a swimmer, I am never as happy as when I am swimming outdoors at my nearest pool Brentanobad and relaxing on the lawn afterwards. I also love that nearly every weekend in the summer there is a street festival to go to. In comparison with the effort I used to make to attend an event in London, in Frankfurt I just walk down the road to a street fest – and  when I am ready to leave I walk home. For me that is really important. Some will prefer the bigger choice and bright lights of the big city, but for me this is better. I think the thing I love the most is simply the feeling of my life here. It is hard to describe. It is the buildings in various architectural styles and the parks, walking everywhere – it’s the quality of life. I feel safe too. I love Frankfurt in every season. Right now, winter in our city is giving me so much joy.

Anything you want to add?

I now feel like I do not completely belong in the UK anymore which is a really strange feeling. I miss my family, the British sense of humour and the fact that people in Britain talk to each other in the street and in shops. However, my life is abroad. I am used to an international life. It is also quite easy to visit my family from here, given that Frankfurt airport is so easy to get to from town and the many flight options. When I arrive back in Frankfurt after going away, I love seeing the skyline and feel I am home. If I ever live anywhere else, which is entirely possible as I would like to live in different places in my life, the next city will have a lot to live up to.

Winterlichter Palmengarten Frankfurt

Magical mystical winter lights

“Winter Lights” brighten the nights in Frankfurt’s Palmengarten 

The illuminated windows of the bank towers shine brightly in the south, the telecommunications tower with its magenta-coloured top shimmers in the north. In-between lies Frankfurt’s West End, where a magical, mystical world of shapes and colours enchants the visitors. The Christmas season has begun, and so has the season of romantic winter lights. Immerse yourself in the magic on a stroll through Frankfurt’s botanical gardens with Wolfgang Gerhard.

Winterlicher Palmengarten Frankfurt _ Hintergrund: Frankfurter Skyline

Penguins, fish and a piggy bank

Some 700 spotlights, 18 light objects, and 6 video installations turn an evening walk through the Palmengarten into an experience of festive cheer. Lighting effects can be seen all over the park, allowing the imagination to run wild.

Where in summer, ducks waddle happily across the grass, almost three dozen penguins now march in strict formation along the banks of a stream. Below the rose garden, blue fish swim in the moonlight. Not far away, a runner untiringly tries to toss a coin into a piggy bank. Tall yellow and red tulips almost touch the branches of the trees, and seven snowdrops glisten where their natural counterparts blossom at the end of the winter. Five colourful globes symbolise the five continents.

The trees, plants, and monuments are bathed in glowing colours. The statue of Perseus and Andromeda shines in bright white in front of Christmassy evergreen shrubs and a huge deciduous tree. The hill above the waterfall at the Great Pond changes its colour from pink to violet and back again, appearing almost eerie in the dark. Experimental video installations, often reminiscent of a kaleidoscope view, are projected onto a 15-meter-wide water curtain in the Octagon Fountain – known as a “hydro shield” – as well as onto the outer wall of the Gesellschaftshaus convention centre.

Winterlicher Palmengarten _ Farbenfrohe Lichtinstallation

German Design Award for the planners

For the last seven years, the winter lights were designed by Wolfgang Flammersfeld and Reinhard Hartleif from Unna, who will receive the “German Design Award 2020” in the category of “Light Architecture” next February.

A sound installation by Lasse-Marc Riek, composed by the sound artist for the 150th anniversary of the Palmenhaus, can also be heard in the great conservatory. The “Sound Dialogues” combine jungle noises with contemporary rhythms to form a flowing tapestry of sound. Visitors can listen to stories of mysterious creatures and distant lands in the fairytale tent in the gallery.

Winterlichter Palmengarten Frankfurt_Farbenfrohe Natur

Find out more about the “Winter Lights” and opening hours until 12 January 2020 (daily, closed only on 24 and 31 December) on the Palmengarten website.

Text and photos: Wolfgang Gerhardt

Frankfurt Christmas Market

Regional specialities and a festive sea of lights: The Frankfurt Christmas Market attracts visitors from around the globe

The Frankfurt Christmas market has a long tradition and is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany. Up to the year 1393 it can be proven that markets took place in Frankfurt on Christmas. The traditional centerpiece of the market is the Römerberg, which with its historic half-timbered houses provides the backdrop for one of the country’s most beautiful and largest Christmas markets. The approximately three million visitors can enjoy the festive atmosphere between the city center and Römerberg from November 25 to December 22, 2018.

The highlight of the opening ceremony will be a live-concert by Dana Winner on November 25. And until December 22, the musical offer ranges from the performance of international Christmas carols, the playing of the tower musicians of the Old St Nicholas Church to the big ringing of the city with the simultaneous ringing of 50 bells.

What would a visit of the Frankfurt Christmas Market be without a taste of the market’s traditional mulled wine or any other of the beverage specialities on offer? Featuring a brand-new design, this year’s mulled wine mug has been awaited with much anticipation, especially by the many collectors amongst the market’s visitors.

Frankfurt Christmas Market – © #visitfrankfurt, Holger Ullmann

Over 200 Christmas stalls

Over 200 Christmas stalls attract visitors with lovely products and treats. In addition to the classic roasted almonds, mulled wine and sausages, you can enjoy typical Frankfurt Christmas specialties such as Bethmännchen (“a little Bethmann”), hot cider and Quetschemännchen. In addition to the culinary diversity, visitors can expect classic Christmas market decoration and folk art articles, as well as modern handicrafts and typical Frankfurt goods such as ‘dippe’ (ceramic pot) and earthenware products. On the adjoining craft market in the Roman halls and the St. Paul’s Church, there is also the opportunity to search for an extraordinary Christmas present.

At the gates of the city there are also a variety of romantic Christmas markets in Odenwald, Rheingau, Taunus and Wetterau.

Christmast market tours

On December 15, the Christmas market tour “Glühwein, Geschichten & Gebäck” (Mulled wine, stories and pastries) will be offered in many languages as well as for the blind and visually impaired and the Frankfurt Christmas market specialties will be presented. Also stories about the historic and modern Frankfurt, the Christmas market and famous Frankfurt personalities are part of the tour.

Another highlight is a guided tour through the winding alleys of Frankfurt’s new Old Town

Rosa Weihnacht

At the Frankfurt Hauptwache (Main Guard) there are more Christmas market stalls, which extend the classic Christmas market area up to the shopping street Zeil and thus form a passage to Christmas shopping. On Friedrich-Stolze-Platz there is also the so-called “Rosa Weihnacht”, which is organized by the gay community of the Rhine-Main region and creates a special atmosphere with its colorful lights, unusual decoration and design.

More information.

 

Photo: © #visitfrankfurt, Holger Ullmann, www.frankfurt-tourismus.de

Fostering Franco-German dialogue at the Financial Centre Frankfurt

Amid an unbeknownst Brexit outcome, cooperation between Financial Centres in continental Europe is essential in tackling the challenges of European integration. On December 10th, L’Agefi, one of the leading French press groups, will host the European Investors Day at the Financial Centre Frankfurt to facilitate the debate amongst the German and French financial industry. The following aspects will be part of the agenda

  • The future of monetary policy: is a stronger consensus possible under Lagarde’s presidency?
  • What role will the Franco-German relationship play in sustainable finance?
  • Is infrastructure investment the key to future growth?

We discussed the event with Philippe Mudry, L’Agefi, in an interview.

What role does the Franco-German relationship play in fostering cooperation in the continental European financial sector?

If and under which circumstances the UK will be leaving the European Union is still unknown. However, the continental European financial sector is already engaged in the process of transition. It knows that it will have to draw on its own resources to overcome the current difficulties to reassert itself on the world stage. And once again, as soon as it comes to thinking about and building the future of Europe, Germany and France stand shoulder to shoulder, partners and competitors at the same time, in a dialogue with their European partners. True to its tradition and convictions, L’Agefi wants to facilitate this debate.

 Why did L’Agefi decided to establish a new event in Europe?

On the 10th of December 2019, we will be holding the second European Investors Day (EID) at the Financial Centre Frankfurt. The aim of the event – inaugurated in June in Brussels – is to involve all of those who want to foster an integrated investment and finance industry in Europe, and to sketch out a vision for the future of such an industry. A few simple questions will build the basis for discussion: What consensus on monetary policy can be achieved? Can a relaunch of European integration give an impetus for renewing infrastructures in continental Europe, including, of course, the now core issue of tackling the challenges created by global warming in each of the countless dimensions? What role can European financial stakeholders, from institutional investors to portfolio management companies, regulators, politicians, banks, and insurance companies play in contributing to the common goal?

Why did L’Agefi decide to host the event at the Financial Centre Frankfurt?

Being a French media outlet, our decision to host the event at the Financial Centre Frankfurt in the wake of crucial European elections is by no means a coincidence; it reflects our strong belief that the Franco-German dialogue can once again crystallize ideas currently circulating in Europe.  In our opinion, one of the questions that need to be answered to support the financial sector in continental Europe in becoming aware of its full potential is: “Can the Paris-Frankfurt axis assert itself in the field of sustainable finance?” Considering that in 2019, L’Agefi has launched the new English-speaking, Europe-oriented media outlet “Asset News” hosting the EID in Frankfurt seemed to be the best way to participate in the emergence of an integrated finance and investment union European professionals are calling for.

 

Please register on L’agefi’s Website.

CFS survey on Facebook’s planned digital currency Libra

German financial industry does not expect Libra to be introduced next year. Major concerns about potential threats to financial stability

Facebook and a group of partners are planning to introduce a digital currency that can be used worldwide, the Libra coin. Shortly before the official launch, prominent supporters such as Mastercard, Visa and PayPal have pulled out of the project. Nevertheless, Facebook is sticking to its plans to roll out Libra next year. On 15 October 2019, the Charter of the Libra Association was signed by a total of 21 founding members.

Numerous politicians and regulators have voiced their concerns about the project since it was announced in June 2019. Central bank governors and finance ministers of the leading economies (G20) also oppose Libra on the grounds of potential risks to global financial stability.

The CFS survey on Libra reveals that the vast majority of respondents regard the concerns of central banks and supervisory authorities as justified. 76.8% of respondents expect Libra to reduce the effectiveness of monetary policy measures. 61.4% of respondents even consider Libra a threat to global financial stability.

In light of this, the majority of respondents (57.1%) do not expect Libra to actually be introduced in the coming year; only 38% believe this will happen.

“It is no surprise that there are significant concerns about Libra. These are also fuelled by Facebook’s failure to publicly address Libra’s long-term expansion plans,” Professor Volker Brühl, Managing Director of the Center for Financial Studies, interprets the survey results. “Moreover, Facebook’s reputation, which has been tarnished by past data protection scandals, is not exactly conducive to such a project,” Brühl adds.

In spite of all the concerns, a majority of respondents (61.1%) oppose a general ban on Libra and advocate constructively accompanying the project in order to promote innovation in the financial sector. “The mood in the financial sector towards Libra is very ambivalent. On the one hand, the idea of a global settlement platform for payments is fascinating; on the other hand, there are fears of incalculable risks,” explains Volker Brühl.

“Once again, the survey proves that the financial sector is open to innovation but then again keeps a close eye on the risks,” says Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V. He points out: “The idea of a uniform, globally valid digital currency is fundamentally attractive and has considerable potential. However, there is a lack of convincing answers to larger questions.”

 

 

 

 

The results are based on a quarterly management survey in the German financial sector.

The Center for Financial Studies (CFS) conducts independent and internationally-oriented research in important areas of Financial and Monetary Economics, ranging from Monetary Policy and Financial Stability, Household Finance and Retail Banking to Corporate Finance and Financial Markets. CFS is also a contributor to policy debates and policy analyses, building upon relevant findings in its research areas. In providing a platform for research and policy advice, CFS relies on its international network among academics, the financial industry and central banks in Europe and beyond.

CFS Index remains stable

The CFS Index, which measures the business climate of the German financial sector on a quarterly basis, maintains a stable level of 109.9 points. The overall unchanged level can be attributed to the steady to positive development of revenue, earnings and investment growth in the financial sector. However, these positive reports are offset by more severe job cuts at the financial institutions and slower growth in employee numbers at the service providers.

“Taken together, the sub-indices signal a cautious upward trend in productivity – and thus also in profitability in the longer term if this trend continues,” Professor Jan Pieter Krahnen, Director of the Center for Financial Studies, interprets the results.

In terms of the future international importance of the Financial Centre Germany, there is now a wide gap between the assessments of the financial institutions and the service providers, in contrast to their tentative positions in the previous quarter. For the financial institutions, this index value falls by -10 points to 107.6 points. Conversely, the value for the service providers rises by 7.9 points. Overall, the index value remains at a good level, with a slight decline of -1.0 points to 118.7 points.

Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V., explains: “So far only the service providers have profited. In 2018, over one billion euros flew into the service sector to prepare banks for Brexit. With regards to the banks, the still little earnings from a relocation of assets do not outweigh the costs of a transfer. Only a third of the expected 750 to 800 billion Euros were transferred. Most Banks are delaying the relocation until there is more clarity. Not least in order to prevent the straining of their equity capital.”

Rising revenue growth in the financial industry

The surveyed financial institutions and service providers were able to expand their revenues/business volume a little more than in the previous quarter, when growth was weak. The corresponding sub-index for the financial institutions rises by 2.7 points to 114.7 points in the third quarter. The service providers increase their revenue growth by 1.8 points to 112.7 points. Both segments of the financial industry are optimistic that they will continue to build their revenues in the current quarter.

Earnings growth of financial institutions is barely down / Service providers report rising earnings growth / Positive expectations for the current quarter

The earnings growth of the financial institutions sees a significantly smaller decline in the third quarter than had been expected. The sub-index falls just slightly, by -0.9 points to 103.5 points. Having reported declining earnings growth in the previous quarters, the service providers now see their positive expectations fulfilled. The corresponding sub-index climbs 4.9 points to 108.3 points. Both groups are anticipating a further increase in the current quarter.

Growth in investment volume is steady to positive

As with earnings, the financial institutions report little change in the growth of their investment volume in product and process innovations. The corresponding sub-index for the financial institutions falls just slightly, by -0.4 points to 105.8 points. In line with expectations, the service providers record a significant increase of 4.2 points to 114.1 points. The financial institutions are anticipating a slight upturn in the current quarter, while the service providers are less optimistic.

Large-scale job cuts at financial institutions / Weaker growth in employee numbers at the service providers

Job cuts at the financial institutions are significantly more severe than they predicted in the previous quarter. The employee numbers sub-index falls accordingly by -8.2 points to 90.5 points. Only a slight easing of job cuts is expected in the current quarter. The service providers are also hiring fewer employees than in the previous quarters. The corresponding sub-index is down -3.7 points to 108.7 points. This level is expected to be maintained in the current quarter.

 

The results are based on a quarterly management survey in the German financial sector.

The Center for Financial Studies (CFS) conducts independent and internationally-oriented research in important areas of Financial and Monetary Economics, ranging from Monetary Policy and Financial Stability, Household Finance and Retail Banking to Corporate Finance and Financial Markets. CFS is also a contributor to policy debates and policy analyses, building upon relevant findings in its research areas. In providing a platform for research and policy advice, CFS relies on its international network among academics, the financial industry and central banks in Europe and beyond.

Finanzplatz Frankfurt

The Financial Centres Frankfurt and Dubai intend to work together more closely

Frankfurt am Main – Frankfurt Main Finance (FMF) and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) agreed on closer cooperation between the two Financial Centres in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed on November 4th, 2019.

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of the DIFC, and Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of FMF, signed the MoU at the DIFC in the presence of German Consul General Holger Mahnicke and Yusef Ahmed, Managing Director of Frankfurt International Consulting.

Hubertus Väth is currently visiting the Middle East alongside a delegation from Frankfurt conducting a roadshow, as part of which the representatives participated in a DIFC panel discussion on “The European financial landscape after Brexit and Germany’s increasing role”.

“I would like to thank Arif Amiri, the German Consul General Holger Mahnicke and the team of the Frankfurt delegation for this important step. The agreement with the DIFC will enable us to work together more closely and to intensify knowledge sharing”.

In the upcoming weeks and months, Frankfurt and Dubai will put their joint plans into action and will thus be making a contribution towards strengthening their respective Financial Centres.

Advantages of the Location Frankfurt

Frankfurt Main Finance wins four new members

The Financial Centre Initiative Frankfurt Main Finance e. V. welcomes four new members, growing its ranks to 69. KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Quirin Privatbank AG and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) join the initiative as sustaining members and Frankfurt Solutions as a Fintech member.

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.

“In times when there is considerable uncertainty in many areas, it is all the more important to combine the various strengths of the financial industry, to actively shape the future of the Financial Centre in concert, and to grow and flourish together. With the support of our longstanding and new members and thanks to our steadily growing industry network, we can jointly develop coordinated approaches to resolve the issues of the future,” insists Dr. Lutz Raettig, President of Frankfurt Main Finance.

Sven-Olaf Leitz, Member of the Board at KPMG Germany with responsibility for Financial Services, is delighted that KPMG has joined Frankfurt Main Finance. “A financial sector has grown up in ‘Mainhattan’ that enjoys an excellent reputation across the world. It is therefore not surprising that the Squaire building at Frankfurt Airport houses the largest of the more than 20 branch offices we maintain in Germany. This underlines the importance of the Financial Centre Frankfurt for us in our activities as one of the largest consulting and auditing companies. We value the close proximity to a wide range of financial actors and market players and appreciate the intensive exchange between the domains of academia, science and business practice that the Main metropolis offers. As a result, the Financial Centre is constantly evolving, and we are pleased to be able to make a further contribution to this development by becoming a member of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V.”

Holger Clemens Hinz, Managing Director in the capital market business of Quirin Privatbank AG, explains, “We are happy to be a member of Frankfurt Main Finance with immediate effect, as this gives us the opportunity to actively shape the future of the Financial Centre Frankfurt together with the other partners and the financial community. As a result, we can participate as a financial institution not only in the orientation of the operational banking business in Frankfurt, but we can also inform important strategic decisions made by politicians and the city government. This is something we see as highly valuable, just as we also value the exchange that is possible with universities.”

David Kleinz, founder of Frankfurt Solutions, points out, “Just as the name Frankfurt Solutions signals a commitment to the location of Frankfurt, so does our membership in Frankfurt Main Finance. With active involvement and the fertile exchange of views and ideas, we would like to become a strong link in this network and consolidate and benefit from the promising developments in the heart of Europe. We look forward to creating new ideas, events, contacts and joint projects with the other members.”

Statement on the agreement between the EU and Great Britain

The European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed on a Brexit extension until January 31st, 2020.

Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of the Financial Centre initiative Frankfurt Main Finance, says:

“Frankfurt Main Finance welcomes the European Union’s decision to agree to an extension of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU. The chances of an unregulated Brexit to occur are now considerably reduced after the approval of the current agreement. We understand this to be a victory of reason.”

FMF welcomes agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom

“Frankfurt Main Finance welcomes the agreement reached between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This forms a basis for limiting the economic damage that could be caused by the withdrawal, creates clarity and reduces associated risks. At today’s annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, there is a palpable sense of relief in Washington amongst the banks who’ve long hoped for an agreement.

The compromise demonstrates that diplomacy between Brussels and London is intact, despite the intense arguments concerning an agreement over the past weeks and months. However, it remains to be seen whether the current agreement can be implemented.

The question of the backstop makes it clear that pragmatic solutions in the interests of both sides can be reached. This gives reasons to hope that that yet another victory in the negotiations can be reached in the near the future.”

Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance