Known as “Mainhattan” of Germany because of its impressive concrete skyscrapers which chararacterise its main river skyline, Frankfurt is a dynamic finance and business hub. Home to the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) and one of the largest stock exchanges worldwide, Frankfurt has everything needed to become the leading financial capital in Europe. Moreover, the compact city laying in the heart of Germany, with its charming old town and plenty of social activities, ensures a high standard of living.
As part of the MSc Finance programme, 80 students went on an educational trip to explore Frankfurt. Our group departed from London Heathrow on Thursday 15th February. After quickly checking-in at our hotel, we had the opportunity to relish the first presentation, held by Mr. Alexander Pfister, a renowned lecturer at the University of Mannheim. He talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the German economy and its transformation. The key lessons learned were that the now flourishing German economy was not always as strong as it is today. A clear turnaround could be noticed after Germany hosted the FIFA world cup in 2006. This unique opportunity proved to the German population why they should be proud of what they can achieve as a nation. This motivation still holds true today and is broadly represented by the main pillar of the German economy – its middle-class companies.
A refreshing shower and a quick wardrobe change later, all participants went to a traditional apple wine tavern to enjoy dinner. The combination of good food, wine and pleasant classmates created a delightful ambience. Networking events such as this represent one of the strong characteristics of the Cass Business School community and forges strong lifelong friendships.
On our second day we experienced the highlight of our trip: a visit at the European Central Bank. Usually only encountered in television or newspapers, we had the opportunity to visit the institution where all the important decisions for the Eurozone are made. Entering the impressive building, we could sense the importance of this place. The flags of every nation stood proud in the middle of the entry area and were a popular spot for student photos. After being warmly welcomed, we attended two presentations.
First we received information on the monetary instruments of the ECB, as well as a detailed insight on its current quantitative easing. Ms Valerie Jarvis, Economist Analyst for the United Kingdom at the ECB, gave us economic analysis on the current Brexit discussion and its expected impact on the British economy – supporting economic data was presented to illustrate the impact Brexit decision has already had on UK citizens.
One consequence of Brexit could be the movement of several banks from London to other locations. One possible candidate is Frankfurt and therefore we wanted to know more about this financial hub in Germany. A representative from Frankfurt Main Finance, a promoting organisation for Frankfurt, gave us a very detailed overview about the benefits of living and working in Frankfurt. With its low taxes and rents, as well as its outstanding infrastructure and quality of life, Frankfurt is a very attractive place for banks. Furthermore, a wide range of Business Schools and Universities provide a talented pool of candidates for the diverse roles. It is no surprise that many banks, such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley, have already decided to move to Frankfurt. We finished this informative day with a presentation on the banking industry of Germany by two representatives of the German Landesbanken.
An international trip like ours offers students first-hand insight and an opportunity to outstand and learn more about an alternative financial hub besides London. Moreover, it helps to enhance interpersonal skills and gain knowledge that can’t be developed in a classroom. We all enjoyed this trip very much and we are thankful to Cass Business School for organising it.
Fabian Frech & Timon Wyder
MSc Finance (2018)