On Monday the official programme of the study trip began. Stephan Kuester (Director at Ernst & Young and Managing Director at digitalswitzerland) welcomed us in the conference rooms of EY which were situated directly on the river with an amazing view of the tower bridge. Mr. Kuester gave us an overview of the start-up community in London and of the so-called EY Start-up Accelerator. Afterwards the first four student groups presented their study results, where we heard interesting facts about Brexit, the British housing market, the strategy of the Bank of England, and the London Stock Exchange. Following the student presentations, Head of the MSc Programme Professor Dr. Andreas Dietrich spoke to the students about the evaluation of the programme, where we had the opportunity to provide feedback regarding each course. It was an animated discussion about suggestions for improvement and Professor Dr. Andreas Dietrich made clear, that the feedback from the students was very important to him and it always flows into the further development and improvement of the programme.
After an interesting but also intense afternoon all participants were very hungry. Luckily a dinner for all the students and lecturers was already planned for this evening. While having a delicious Indian dinner, we exchanged our initial impressions of London. For some of us the day was already finished due to the remaining presentations scheduled for the following morning while for others the pub tour in London was just under way.
On Tuesday, a very interesting day programme was awaiting us, starting with the term paper presentations of the last two student groups regarding the large banks of Great Britain and the market structure of the British Private Banking Sector. Before lunchtime we also welcomed Peter Cunnane from the City of London Corporation, who showed us how this institution has supported and further developed the financial industry in London for already 1’000 years. Thereby, not only established financial service providers benefit from their services but also FinTechs which have created about 45’000 jobs only in London.
In order to gain better insight into the practice of FinTechs and Start-ups in general, Gregoire Michel from the Start-up Bootcamp FinTech Accelerator welcomed us in his offices. Gregoire Michel introduced us to the three-month programme in which they help Start-ups to focus on their core competences and develop a promising business model. After listening to a very inspiring speech we were headed Downtown where Danny and Bob were expecting our group for a city tour. Separated into two groups we had the pleasure to see London from another perspective and to hear about a lot of interesting insider stories and history to the different buildings in the city.
Another absolute highlight was the last point of the agenda on Tuesday. David Durlacher, CEO of Julius Bär in London, as well as a part of his team welcomed us in their offices. David Durlacher is not only a passionate and very talented speaker, but he also brought up engaging and surprising personal views. For example, he does not believe that the Brexit will have a big impact on the Private Banking business in Great Britain. Furthermore, he also does not see a big concurrence in upcoming FinTechs. Finally, he had an important Take-Home Message for us: «Not the most intelligent one is the best Private Banker, it is the one with the biggest empathy.» All in all, Tuesday was a very interesting but also exhausting day. Despite this, most of the students were still up to celebrate the end of a challenging semester, after the last assignments were finally concluded.
On Wednesday was scheduled the last highlight of our trip. In the offices of Metro Bank, we learned how retail banking truly works: «No stupid bank rules, no product selling goals, seven-day store banking, 362 days a year». This was just one example of the many alternative terms at Metro Bank. With its new approach Metro Bank revolutionizes the retail banking market and meets with a huge success (850’000 clients since the foundation of the bank in 2010). The inspiring speech of Andrew Richards, Head of Regional Retail Banking of Metro Bank, introduced us to new ways of conducting business in retail banking. After these enlightening impressions, our study trip came to an end.