By Marc Leuenberger, MSc Banking and Finance student
The banking industry has changed dramatically in recent years. Challenger banks such as Revolut, Monzo, N26 or Transferwise are testing traditional banks. There is probably no other financial centre that embodies these "two worlds" as well as London does. On the one hand, the city is home to some of the world's most famous fintechs. On the other hand, some of the globally largest financial service providers operate a significant part of their business from the capital of the United Kingdom. A visit to London has been a fixed component of the MSc in Banking and Finance study programme at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts for several years. At the end of the first semester of the study programme, students have the opportunity to experience the dynamic financial hub at first hand.
The first morning started with a visit to Ernst & Young. Andrew Pilgrim and Mark Flanagan shared their thoughts on the future of the financial services market and the role of Ernst & Young in this respect. In particular, their views on Brexit were followed with great interest. Afterwards, students of the MSc in Banking and Finance presented their seminar papers. The topics covered included "Differences between the Swiss and UK banking systems" and "Development of challenger banks in the UK".
On Tuesday morning, further presentations by students were scheduled. Afterwards, David Durlacher, CEO Julius Baer International London, Trevor Stevenson and Dawn Li Wan Po gave us an interesting insight into how Bank Julius Baer's private banking and wealth management business works. It was intriguing to hear how Julius Bär organises its investment process and how it deals with issues such as digitalisation and sustainability.
In the afternoon, we visited the UBS building in London, where around 8,000 people are employed. The building employs 33% more people than the number of workspaces it provides. In addition to workspaces, the building also offers a gym, an in-house medical practice, a concierge service and much more.
Following the tour, a series of interesting talks were scheduled, starting with a presentation from Wayne Lawson-Turnbull. Wayne described himself as a "dinosaur" and, according to his own statement, has held just about every position within UBS that one can imagine. He is currently Head of Technology Risk Management in the investment bank. His attitude towards change, innovation and diversity was particularly fascinating. Following Wayne Lawson-Turnbull, Vishank Patel gave us some insights into the organisation of the UBS Business Solutions Centers spread around the world, including three in Biel, Schaffhausen and Manno (Ticino).
The day was completed with a visit to the Investement Banking Innovation Lab. This is where the hot dog eating contest comes into play. Tom Hodson showed us the philosophy of the Innovation Lab by the means of the well-known competition eater Takeru Kobayashi. Despite modest body masses of about 1.70 meters and 60 kilograms, Kobayashi has revolutionised competition eating thanks to a special technique. Before his appearance on the scene in 2001, the record in hot dog eating was 25 in 12 minutes. Kobayashi doubled this number, which was considered impossible in the scene before (find a video here).
What is interesting about this story is not so much the hot dog as the approach in dealing with challenges and changes. Like Kobayashi, UBS's Innovation Lab tries to find new ways to foster innovation within the investment bank.
The last day of our London trip started with a discussion with Sascha Hilber. Sascha is a former student of the MSc in Banking and Finance programme and is now an investment banker at Citibank in London. He showed us what an investment banker's day looks like, how big the workload is, but also what exciting transactions he was involved in within the Equity Capital Markets division.
Having gathered many impressions and inspiration for our studies and future career, we then set off on our journey home.
The Master of Science in Banking and Finance study programme at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Switzerland) starts in September. Information about the Master's programme can be found here.