Since 2011, the Frankfurt Finance Summit has been held annually in the Financial Centre Frankfurt. Under this year’s motto Navigating in Uncertain Waters, more than 200 high-calibre personalities from the domestic and international financial world came together on 18 June 2019 to discuss the topics:
- Financial Centre Germany: Strategies for Succeeding in Rough Times
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Finance: Superpower or Super Risk, Revolution or Buzzword
- Connecting values: a digital finance hub for Europe
- Post-election Europe facing Brexit: Securing stability for functioning markets
The participants represented a broad spectrum of the financial services industry – mainly decision-makers from central banks, stock exchanges, supervisory authorities, banks, insurance companies, politics, companies and academia.
Dr. Lutz Raettig, President of Frankfurt Main Finance, opened the Frankfurt Finance Summit with a warm welcome to all participants and speakers. After the welcoming speech by Dr. Philipp Nimmermann, State Secretary in the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing, Dr. Jörg Kukies, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, took the floor. Dr. Kukies referred to the need to prepare as best as possible for all Brexit scenarios. Although great success had already been achieved in the implementation of important measures, Europe had so far failed to reach a European agreement on a Sustainable Finance taxonomy. A European agreement, however, remains extremely important for a sustainable financial system.
Financial Centre Germany: Strategies for Succeeding in Rough Times
During the first panel discussion, a survey of the audience revealed that the majority of Summit participants believe that the future of the German banking sector lies in Europe. This view was also shared by the German head of BNP Paribas Paribas Lutz Diederichs. In his opinion, the German banking sector is not dependent on the domestic market, but strongly internationalised. Prof. Dr. Isabel Schnabel, Professor of Financial Market Economics at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn, also confirmed this trend. She highlighted the weaknesses of the euro structure and confirmed that Germany needed more reforms in this respect. Cornelius Riese, co-chairman of DZ Bank, spoke in favour of a more comprehensive strategy. In addition to market capitalisation, factors such as culture and stakeholder interests are essential metrics for assessing the financial system or a financial institution.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Financial Industry: Superpower vs. Super Risk, Revolution or Phrase
The discussion continued with a discussion on the use of artificial intelligence in the financial industry in which Prof. Dr. Martin Hellmich, Partner at Deloitte, Carsten Mürl, Director Product Management at Mastercard, Dr. Holger Rommel, Head Research and Digital Transformation at ti&m, Vahe Andonians, Senior Lecturer at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, and Chris Boos, founder of Arago, participated. First and foremost, Chris Boos, an AI pioneer from Germany, cleared up prejudices about the topic. The general fear of AI is completely unfounded. Although AI has developed even more rapidly in the last five years than the last 50 years combined, man would not be dominated by the machine in the future. Accordingly, understanding and trust are the decisive keys to the use of AI in the financial industry.
Connecting values: a digital financial hub for Europe
During the subsequent power talk between Prof. Dr. Joachim Wuermeling, Member of the Board of Deutsche Bundesbank, and Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance, the Financial Centre Frankfurt was closely examined. Prof. Wuermeling stated that after the Brexit referendum a competition was triggered between European financial centres in advertising for business, jobs and employees from London. It wasn’t just about who got a piece of the cake, but how big it was. The Financial Centre Frankfurt had to decide whether it wanted to take over a cooperative or a competition-oriented approach. His advice would be to follow the cooperative approach, since cooperation could win a bigger piece of the cake. Wuermeling also expressed confidence that Frankfurt would assume leadership in the European finance sector five years after Brexit.
Post-election Europe facing Brexit: Securing stability for functioning markets
In the concluding panel discussion, John Berrigan, Deputy Director General of the EU Commission, similarly advocated a banking union. This could increase the EU’s weight at the global level. With regard to Brexit, Mr Berrigan said that all those involved should do everything in their power to minimise the risks as far as possible. Matthias Graulich, member of the Executive Board of Eurex Clearing AG, cited the indispensability of incentives so that each individual would be motivated to contribute to stability. Felix Hufeld, President of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), drew attention to the general fatigue surrounding the issue of Brexit. Although Brexit is complex and unpredictable, he also warned against viewing the world only through the lens of Brexit. After all, it was not about London against the rest of the world. Looking back on the developments of the past years, according to Felix Hufeld it should not be forgotten that in the financial sector at the European level many important improvements were made in a very short time.
The 9th Frankfurt Finance Summit ended with a summary of the day’s keynote speeches and a closing remarks by Michael Speth, Member of the Board of DZ Bank.