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On the Move: the Future of Finance

Top masters students from the region’s business schools were invited to the Frankfurt Finance Summit. Mariam Abdelhady, Master of Finance student at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, reflects here on her impressions from the event.

On May 12th, 2016, I had the great opportunity to attend the 6th Frankfurt Finance Summit, which is organized by Frankfurt Main Finance (FMF) in collaboration with Frankfurt Institute for Risk Management and Regulation (FIRM). The annual summit, highlights the importance of Frankfurt as the center of financials stability and bank regulations in the Euro zone. It gathers Central bankers, regulators, representatives of the supervisory authorities, academics, financial politicians and practitioners together to discuss current financial issues from different perspectives. The focus of this year’s summit was digitalization and its impact on different players in the financial market. The discussions and speeches were divided into four parts:

Digitalization – The Dawning of FinTechs

The Summit started off by Dr. Lutz R. Raetting, Chairman of the Executive Committee of FMF, expressing his pleasure with sustaining the summit for the 6th year in a raw. Refereeing to the title of the Summit, he pointed out to the fact that we are all always “On The Move”, be it voluntarily or due to someone else pushing us to. As digitalization is the main focus of this year’s summit, he mentioned that the number of FinTech companies is increasing in the region and specifically in Frankfurt. The reason for this is the ideal conditions Frankfurt provides FinTechs with, in terms of the proximity to the regulator, as well as the best environment for the internationalization of their businesses.

In support of this view, Hessian Minister of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional Development Tarek Al-Wazir highlighted the fact that Frankfurt will open its Fintech center in four months with the goal of improving the communication between start-ups, banks and regulators. This in turn will attract investors to Frankfurt and will position the city as an “innovative location for IT-driven start-ups in the financial sector”. Additionally, Al-Wazir stated that the current financial sector is undergoing fundamental changes mainly due to the economic and regulatory conditions and the ongoing digitalization, which explains the focus of the summit.

Examining the impact of FinTechs on the banking sector, Mr. Gottfried Leibbrandt, CEO of SWIFT, explained the concepts of Blockchain and Bitcoin and how they would impact the banking sector and SWIFT. Nevertheless, he believes that banks will make it through, just like they did in the 90s during the first wave of FinTech and the rise of online banking and electronic trading. The key for banks is to make use of those innovations to facilitate their work and not allow them to take over their work, whereas the main threat remains to be cyber security. On the other hand, Hauke Stars, Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Börse AG, believes that only those institutions that are able to adapt to the changing environment will survive. In accordance to this view, Roland Boekhout, Chairman of the Management Board of ING-DiBA AG, stated that cooperation with FinTechs in essential, because their technologies and services may be in the interest of their customers.

Redefining Banking – Regulatory and Economic Challenges

Another interesting topic discussed in the summit was the merger deal between Deutsche Börse and the London Stock Exchange. Mr. Carsten Kengeter, CEO of Deutsche Börse, explained the completed steps towards this merger, as well as the implications of this deal on the capital market and the benefits associated with it.

Furthermore, this panel discussed the potential implications of the capital market union on the banking sector, future regulations and the impact of what is believed by some to be BASEL 4, as well as the future of some financial institutions, giving the changing regulations and the rise of digitalization. Although past regulations have resulted in a more resilient banking sector, new ones are believed to make the conduct of some activities more difficult, hence hindering banks from realizing much of the profits they used to gain. Regarding the impact of digitalization and FinTechs on the banking sector, it is believed that they will change the business models of banks. Therefore, it is essential for the supervisory authorities to find the balance between supporting innovation and protecting customers and the financial system as a whole.

Tectonic shift – Where will finance move to?

Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble’s speech focused on the proposed referendum on the Brexit and its impact on the future of finance in the EU. Although he advocates that Britain should remain in the EU, underlying its importance to the union, but should the referendum result in otherwise, the exit phase should immediately begin. He believes that Prime Minister David Cameron had negotiated a good deal and that no further concessions and renegotiations would be possible, in case of a majority votes for the exit. Hence he stated that “in means in, and out means out” with all the implications this might have. Additionally, Federal Finance Minister Schäuble highlighted the fact that in addition to the Single Supervisory Mechanism, there are still other areas in banking regulations, as well as fiscal budget, policies and security that will continue to improve in the future, with or without Britain.

Financial Inclusion

Discussing the importance of technology to the financial sector, Mr. Diwakar Gupta, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank, explained, using India as an example, that new technologies, like mobile banking, allows the large portion of the population living in rural areas to access financial services. Additionally, governments should also make use of such technologies, for example to make sure subsidies really reach the poor. Mr. Gupta believes that the biggest challenge for technology-based financial services is getting people to use it for the first time.

Overall, attending this summit was a great experience exposing us to the main topics that might affect the financial sector as a whole and its main players in the near future, with insights from top notch practitioners, as well as financial politicians and regulators of the field. Such unique experiences that Frankfurt School provides to its students, along with academic excellence is what differentiates it from other schools and universities.

Study the Future: first Bachelor’s programme with concentration in FinTech

Beginning in the winter semester of 2016/17, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management will offer a new concentration, Digital Innovation and FinTech, in their Bachelor’s in Business Administration. The launch partner and initiator of this first of its kind study programme is Germany’s FinTech Group AG, who will provide 50 percent scholarships for 20 outstanding students. In return, students will receive a traineeship with FinTech Group where they can begin to gather practical industry experience.

“These IT driven innovations are creating enormous potential. Here in Frankfurt, this is especially true for FinTechs,” explains Professor Dr. Udo Steffens, President of Frankfurt School. “Now we have created the first degree programme that prepares young people to take advantage of these products and services’ opportunities. FinTech Group has proved to be a competent sparring partner in the development of this programme. The cooperation will absolutely be a benefit for our students.”

The new concentration is the concept of FinTech Group CEO Frank Niehage. He explains, “In order to secure the future of digitalisation in Germany’s financial sector, we will require committed and well educated employees, especially in Frankfurt. Only with them will we be able to realise our growth and market opportunities. We are excited to have found such an excellent partner in Frankfurt School, with whom we were able to efficient and effectively implement the concept for the first FinTech degree programme. Our larger, shared goal is to offer students diverse career perspectives and to invite other companies to participate in this.”

To provide the students even more motivation, FinTech Group plans to offer permanent positions to the top three students in each graduating class. Frankfurt School introduced the new concentration at their biannual recruiting event, Bachelor Day, where FinTech Group was also on present with an information stand.

The bachelor’s programme in Business Administration with a concentration in Digital Innovation and FinTech will last seven semesters and be offered in a three-day model. This means that students will attend lectures for three days of the week and have three days in which to gain work experience. Frankfurt School hopes to be able to pair students with additional companies as interns, work students or trainees. The programme will begin on August 19, 2016 and the application deadline is June 30. Tuition is EUR 6,650 per semester, half of which will be subsidised by FinTech Group.