Finanzplatztag 2017 – building instead of burning bridges

On March 7-8, 2017, WM Gruppe, a member of Frankfurt Main Finance and publisher of Börsen-Zeitung, hosted the tenth Finanzplatztag (Financial Centre Day) at the IHK Frankfurt in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Frankfurt Main Finance was well represented at Finanzplatztag, with members delivering keynotes and participating in discussions throughout the event. Among the member organizations represented were Deutsche Börse, Helaba, the State of Hessen, and, of course, WM Gruppe.

Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance, moderated the panel Building Instead of Burning Bridges – the new landscape for EU financial centres which featured Arnaud de Bresson, CEO of Paris Europlace, Mark Hoban, Chairman of the International Regulatory Strategy Group, Pat Lardner, CEO of the Irish Fund Association, and Tom Theobald, Deputy CEO of Luxembourg for Finance. The representative of Europe’s leading financial centres explored what changes could be expected as financial services leave London in the wake of Brexit. While differing on some smaller points, the panelists were able to agree on the importance of maintaining stability in Europe. A significant contributor to this stability, of course, will be London maintaining its role as an important, global financial centre. The Eurozone’s financial centres will need to maintain a strong network to remain competitive with other global centres like Singapore and New York City. Building a bridge from the Eurozone to London will play a critical role for minimizing the effects of Brexit and preserving stability.

Dr. Gertrud R. Traud, Chief Economist with Helaba, spoke about structural change and Frankfurt’s position to profit from Brexit, giving an overview Frankfurt’s position as a financial centre compared to its main competitors.  Traud explained why Frankfurt’s special character sets it in the top position on the continent and introduced the findings of the recent Financial Centre Focus. The Helaba study, Brexit – Let’s go Frankfurt, shows that Frankfurt ranks in the top position on several factors, including a world-class infrastructure, high quality of life and the stability and strength of the German economy.

Following a keynote address from Deutsche Börse CEO Carsten Kengeter, Claus Döring, Editor-in-Chief at Börsen-Zeitung, took the stage to lead the podium discussion, Consequences of Brexit for the Financial Centre Frankfurt. The discussion featured Hubertus Väth, Hauke Stars, Deutsche Börse Executive Board Member, and Michael Reuther, Commerzbank Executive Board Member. Väth opened the discussion, explaining he still stands with his estimate that around 10,000 jobs will be moved to Frankfurt from London over the next five years. Given Frankfurt’s numerous locational advantages, Väth reported that there has been extensive interest from financial services and banks and that he expects to announcements to be made later in the month. While he was not in the position to provide names, he stated that, “3 of the 5 largest American banks have made decided to move to the Financial Centre Frankfurt.” Väth reiterated that Frankfurt remains “in the pole position” and remains the best alternative for banks leaving the United Kingdom. Per Väth, announcements and resettlements will happen in three waves, beginning with large investment banks, followed by commercial banks and asset managers.

Frankfurt Main Finance Executive Committee Member, Hauke Stars, expounded on Väth’s comments, noting Frankfurt’s deep talent pool and role as a regulatory hub amongst its many attractive factors. Stars explained that Frankfurt is not just an attractive location for large financial services firms, but also for small FinTech start-ups. Deutsche Börse has been an active supporter of the Frankfurt FinTech ecosystem, especially with their FinTech Hub. To this Stars hinted at expanded activities to continue advancing this important segment which will be announced in the coming weeks.

The first day of the event closed with an address from Tarek Al-Wazir, the Hessian Minister for Economics, Energy, Transport, Urban and Regional Development and Frankfurt Main Finance Executive Committee Member. Al-Wazir reflected on the events of 2016 and the ten years since the first Finanzplatztag. Stating that Brexit was very unfortunate and undesired, Al-Wazir explained that we must do what is best for the Financial Centre and the goal is keep a hand extended to the United Kingdom, and reemphasized that we must build bridges rather than tear them down. Like many of the speakers, Al-Wazir concluded the day with a message that conveyed the importance of Frankfurt and Europe’s openness in contributing to the global economy. Indeed, building bridges with the entire world, and not just the UK, no doubt reflects the character of the Financial Centre Frankfurt and this message will certainly be on everyone’s minds throughout 2017 and until the next Finanzplatztag in 2018.