The bank is perceived as a brand

Original Source in German: published on Oct 5, 2018 – “Die Bank wird als Marke wahrgenommen” Translation by DeepL Pro

Author: Angelika Breinich-Schilly interviewed Jochen Werne, Director Marketing, Business Development, Treasury & Payment Services at Bankhaus August Lenz.

Banks need to do a lot to keep pace in an increasingly digital world. In an interview with Springer Professional, Jochen Werne from Bankhaus August Lenz talks about the challenges they have to face and the right strategies.

(c) Bankhaus August Lenz

Springer Professional: Mr. Werne, what do you see as the most important driver of change in banks that is being invoked everywhere? Is it just the ongoing digitalization or do you see other reasons that require a strategic change process of the institutes?


Jochen Werne: The industry is undergoing what is probably a historic upheaval. We live in times of exponential technologies and in addition to the cost-side necessity of digitizing a large part of the processes of the institutes, the rapid change in customer expectations associated with technology, poses great challenges to an industry which is not known for being greatly agile. This disruption will eclipse many things and later perhaps be judged as revolutionary as the invention of the steam engine. In recent weeks, this has hardly made anything as clear as the rise of the online payment processor Wirecard. Wirecard was not only able to outperform Commerzbank in the DAX in September. Founded in 1999, the company has already overtaken Deutsche Bank in terms of market capitalization. In addition to the ongoing digitalization, there are also other current challenges: The low interest rate phase, which has now already lasted for a long time, is putting massive pressure on the margins of traditional houses. Political crises, trade disputes, currency problems such as in Turkey and Brexit naturally also have a direct effect on the classic business models of banks: In the future, they will have to adapt more than ever and increasingly prove their agility.
The exponential leaps in technology and ever shorter product cycles are forcing the global economy as a whole to change and adapt to changing circumstances more than ever before. Kodak is a good example. For the sake of simplification, the company has often been accused of not being far-sighted, but it has failed because of a culture that has allowed little change. Two letters are currently electrifying the economy: AI. After decades of disinterest, artificial intelligence is suddenly once again regarded as the decisive guarantor of a company’s future viability. The immediate integration of AI into one’s own business model seems indispensable, even vital for survival. Without smart software, you’d think you were dedicated to meaninglessness.
Similar to Facebook, the financial industry holds very valuable data. The preparation and processing of this data will not only become easier with maturing AI systems, but also much faster, cheaper and more targeted. It is nevertheless private and sensitive data. In order to make this resource usable in conjunction with external data, the industry must at the same time ensure its long-term security. Data may only be used in the sense of the customer, the human being – an objective that certainly has to apply to all AI-based approaches. Artificial intelligence offers an enormous range of opportunities for companies to be closer to their customers. But it also has its limits and here we are not only talking about technical limits, but also about limits that arise when the customer’s mindset does not go hand in hand with what is technically possible. Technology will only prevail if people accept it. Too radical a step, without consideration for all three areas Human, Digital and Culture, is always counterproductive.

Springer Professional: You describe that many decision-makers in the banks are well aware of the necessary changes in the business model. At the same time, however, top management often does not seem to set a concrete course and have corresponding visions. Why do you think that is?

Jochen Werne: Digitization, technological advances and the acceleration of product cycles are forcing executives to reposition their businesses. The question is no longer whether and why companies should change and introduce a more flexible organizational form, but only: How quickly and sustainably can they do it? The need for successful Change Management is not new and digitization was not an unforeseeable event. What is new, however, is the sum of the technical innovations, the possibilities offered by the technological leaps and the resulting need for extremely high implementation speeds. This circumstance has far-reaching effects on the entire management of the company. This often leads to different change processes overlaying each other, individual change processes being interrupted, modified or restarted and the organization being in a state of continuous change. And this also applies to the manager.

Springer Professional: In order to become a driver of innovation as a bank, it is necessary to anticipate not only upcoming technological but also social changes, some of which still vary greatly from region to region. One example is the payment behaviour of customers, which looks different in Germany than in other European countries or even in Asia. Many financial service providers now have think tanks or innovation labs to take on this task. But does some good ideas go up in smoke due to poorly thought-out change management?

Jochen Werne: Every new innovative offering must be easy for the customer to understand, intuitive to use and as a bank, absolutely trustworthy in terms of data security. The customer relies on the security of the communication channels as well as the careful handling of his private data. The challenge is to ensure data protection while at the same time providing the highest possible level of customer convenience. The resources of traditional banks offer enormous advantages here. An established bank is perceived as a brand by its clients, who at best associate it with important values such as trustworthiness, competence, industry knowledge and personal service. This trust is enormously important to us and should definitely be used.

Springer Professional: Companies in other industries sometimes find it easier to cope with change processes because they are not subject to additional strict regulations, as is the case with banks. Nevertheless, financial service providers such as Wirecard have succeeded in clearly differentiating themselves from traditional banks with their business model. Recently, the share value of this Fintech has even overtaken Deutsche Bank, the industry leader, as the most valuable institution. What can the industry learn from this?

Jochen Werne: Laws and guidelines have a strong influence on the competitive situation. MIFID II and PSD II are prime examples of this. In the second case, industry experts predicted that the mere opening of the banking infrastructure to third parties would lead to a major shift in competition.
This is a big advantage for FinTechs, but also the FinTech industry, which is already in the process of market consolidation, has to make considerable investments and adjustments, even if the new regulations now also open up new market opportunities. Non-adaptable service providers without sustainable and a viable business models will be driven out of the market, as will banks whose offerings do not meet the needs of customers in a digital world.
The example shows not only the usefulness of cooperation, but also its necessity. The advantages of banks, such as routine handling of regulatory issues or cross-selling opportunities due to the existing customer base, will continue to exist even after the market consolidation of the FinTech industry and the introduction of new technological standards.

Springer Professional: In order to be a driver of innovation, a bank does not necessarily have to handle all tasks alone. Where and when do cooperations with Fintechs make sense from your point of view?

Jochen Werne: What some have, others lack. Banks have a solid customer base, greater financial resources and, most importantly, a banking licence and the necessary know-how to deal with the relevant regulatory authorities. In addition, traditional financial institutions with many years of market experience, expertise in customer business and their trust can score points. Fintechs, on the other hand, have business models that are geared precisely to bringing innovative, customer-centric digital tools to market in a short space of time. Strategic alliances make sense, because ultimately everyone benefits – especially the customers. Not only the young generation today has very high demands on innovative mobile banking, but all age groups have discovered the new mobile possibilities in a very short time. Personal access to customers, which has persisted despite all the financial crises to date, is a sign that banks have preserved their most important asset – the trust of their customers. In an increasingly transparent and open financial world, however, the extent to which the customer’s loyalty to his bank will remain, is open.

“You can’t go against the sea; the sea is always stronger”

by Martina Scherf

Original in German published on February 8, 2018 in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator. Photo (c) Dr. Oliver Picht

Munich banker Jochen Werne and eleven friends want to sail from Cape Horn to Antarctica on a sailing ship. It is not only the myth of historical seafaring that drives them.

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Safe return doubtful. Honour in case of success”. With such words the British navigator Ernest Shackleton 1914 is said to have searched for men for a trip to the Southern Ocean. In the end he was honoured, but before that a dramatic struggle for survival took place. The ship got stuck in the pack ice for months until it finally sank, the men rescued themselves in open dinghies on the sea. An incredible story in which everyone survived in the end.

A trip to Antarctica is still dangerous today. Bitterly cold anyway. “When you approach an iceberg, it feels like putting your head in the freezer,” says Jochen Werne, 46. He knows this feeling. He’s been to the Arctic Sea twice before, all the way up to Spitsbergen. This time he is aiming in the other direction: from Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America to Antarctica. With a sailing ship. On the 12th of February it is supposed to start.

The Drake Strait, named after Sir Francis Drake, the British buccaneer and circumnavigator, is one of the most dangerous shipping routes in the world. In 14 days Werne and his eleven fellow sailors want to pass it there and back with the Santa Maria Australis, a 20-metre-long ship made of aluminium. It belongs to Wolf Kloss, who has his base in southern Chile and regularly sails in the Southern Ocean. Tourism has long since reached even the most remote regions of the world. Two years ago Kloss followed Shackleton’s footsteps to Antarctica on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.

Werne, who has always been the skipper himself on his previous tours, relies this time on the experience of the local skipper. But the preparation and logistics were in his hands, and of course he will be at the helm himself. “The last few weeks I have hardly slept more than four hours a night,” he says. They completed safety training with a life raft on Lake Starnberg. They trained themselves for medical emergencies, studied the weather conditions, drew up a plan for the procedures on board and the supporters ashore.

“We have a dentist with us who has to sew an open leg in an emergency,” he says and laughs. If necessary, a doctor in Germany can advise the colleague by e-mail or satellite telephone. On board, all crew members share the tasks, they go on watch, navigate, collect weather data, take care of the on-board technology, cook and wash dishes. “The youngest is 28, the oldest 78,” says Werne. They are entrepreneurs, bankers, managers, scientists from several countries. There will not only be canned ravioli, Werne emphasizes: “Napoleon already said: “The army marches on its stomachs”. They are not afraid of seasickness. “I also get caught by it every now and then,” he says, “but then you drink a Coke as soon as you can, eat some salt sticks and carry on. Discipline helps over everything.”

Everybody has to do everything – even tricky repairs
Also about extremely tricky situations. Once, years ago, they were lying on a Legerwall with a defective machine in the English Channel. This is what sailors call one of the most unpleasant situations that can happen to them: Wind and current press against the land, but the ship is unable to manoeuvre. “You’re hanging upside down in the engine compartment trying to repair the cooling water circuit, even if you’ve never done this before in your life.”

The focus is on sailing under extreme conditions, but Werne is also concerned with the tradition of seafaring, which he wants to keep alive, and the Corps spirit. With his cruises he wants to pay tribute to the well-known and unknown heroes of the seas. “There are no monuments at sea,” he says. That’s why he has already launched wreaths in various places, in memory of brave men on dangerous missions.

“At sea you help each other,” says Werne. He also sees himself as a peace missionary. For even after the most bitter battles, such as in the Second World War, the opponents often saved each other. He wants to remind us of this. Because they are not allowed to leave anything behind in Antarctica, no flowers, no foreign substances, they will lay down a wreath of ice. “If we make it there, we will hold a worthy ceremony in honor of the seafarers of 17 different nations.” They will hoist the flags and return them to the respective government officials upon their return.

For this purpose, the Munich-based, by profession authorized signatory and marketing director of a traditional Munich bank, has collected accompanying letters from government representatives. Prince Albert of Monaco, who is very concerned about environmental issues, supports the campaign together with the Yacht Club of Monaco. The Spanish king and other dignitaries will also be present.

Environmental protection and remembrance

The environmental idea is also important for Werne. “When you are out there, in the vastness of the ocean, and you see this infinite beauty, you ask yourself: How can man destroy that?”

Werne has therefore also won the United Nations as a partner by promoting its Clean Seas programme. The uninhabited Antarctic, only discovered 200 years ago, is under special international protection. In 1959, in the middle of the Cold War, twelve nations negotiated the Antarctic Treaty. It stipulates that the area south of the 60th parallel is exclusively reserved for peaceful use. And it contains the strictest environmental regulations. Today there are not only numerous research stations, but also a growing number of visitors to the Antarctic. But the international agreement still holds. “This is a unique and wonderful agreement,” says Werne.

The man from Munich and his comrades-in-arms will collect plankton along the way and make it available to scientists. They will observe whales and document all their observations. They will be attending press conferences and writing to governments about the pollution of the oceans. Even plastic waste is now spreading as far as Antarctica, where birds and marine animals are suffocating.

As a child, Werne saw on television the reports of the Frenchman Jacques Cousteau, “and from then on, my mother told me, I wanted to become a ‘deep-sea diver researcher'”. Growing up in southwest Germany, just before the Swiss border, he went to the navy for two years after graduating from high school. The service on the Gorch Fock shaped him for life. But staying in the Navy didn’t seem attractive to him. “I got to know great people there,” he says, “but also some who failed because of the rigid system.” He studied economics and worked for major international banks in London and Frankfurt before coming to Munich. But seafaring didn’t let him go.

In 1999 he founded the Global Offshore Sailing Team with a friend. Professionally successful and internationally networked, he soon found like-minded people with the necessary small change and the equally great enthusiasm for extreme sailing. In 2011 and 2016 they sailed into the Arctic up to the pack ice limit.

The ice is unpredictable

What the violence of nature means in such regions, they experienced very closely. “After a few days of exploring the fog, we suddenly came out of nowhere towards icebergs,” he says. They sought shelter in a fjord, put their ship behind a floating jetty in a small harbour. But the ice followed, pushing into the fjord with mighty force. “We kept watch around the clock and pushed the ice with poles away from the ship.” It still demanded its toll. Crashing it tore the propeller of the engine from the hull, water broke in, they had to scoop for hours.

They will meet icebergs again this time. They hope for a proper distance. The Santa Maria Australis is a comfortable ship, her hull is built of several separate chambers to protect her from water ingress. She is equipped with the latest technology such as radar, satellite navigation and communication and can be followed on the Internet. It has two powerful diesel engines on board, a power generator, several battery systems, a water conditioner that turns seawater into drinking water, and heated cabins. Nevertheless, a trip to Antarctica is no walk in the park. Icebergs are unpredictable.

Erich von Drygalski, the Munich geographer, led the first German South Polar expedition in 1902. His ship, the Gauss, was trapped by ice on 1 March and held 50 miles off the coast for almost a year. Thanks to its rounded hull, it was not crushed but only lifted. The men had enough supplies and used the year for their research. Werne and his friends do not have that much time. But even for them, he says, “You can’t go against the sea, the sea is always stronger”.


Peacefully administering a continent together – an inspiring reality

The Hague, 7 December 2018 – An exciting part of The Netherlands’ 2018 Polar Symposium has been the ceremonial presentation of the Antarctic Blanc expedition flag to the Arctic Ambassador of The Netherlands, Ms. Carola Van Rijnsoever by a delegation of the Global Offshore Sailing.

This special occasion recognized the commitment of The Netherlands in preserving Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. In addition, it’s has also been an opportunity to remember the explorers, scientists and sailors who set foot on the Antarctic continent to discover and made us all aware how beautiful and equally important this ecosystem and its protection for our planet is.

In his speech, Antarctic Blanc expedition leader Jochen Werne emphasised the importance of the Antarctic Treaty not only for the white continent, but also as an encouraging diplomatic achievement that underscores the human capacity to peacefully find intelligent solutions, even when it comes to jointly administer an entire continent.

He underscored, that by visiting and exploring our planet’s poles, the Netherland’s Polar Programme scientists, in collaboration with the international community of polar scientists have been a great inspiration for future generations of scientists and explorers worldwide. Due to the engagement for the Antarctic, and the establishment of the Dutch Dirck Gerritsz Laboratory at the British Rothera Research Station in 2013, The Netherlands today play an important role for the future of the white continent. By acceding the Antarctic Treaty  on March 30, 1967 with the goal that “in the interest of all mankind Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord”, The Netherlands underlined its commitment as one of the leading countries engaged in preserving this ecosystem as “a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”. This has been made clear to everyone by The Netherland’s signature to the Antarctic Environment Protocol on January 14, 1998.

After the ceremony Dutch Arctic Ambassador Carola von Rijnsoever also signed the expedition flag underlining the strong commitment of The Netherlands to Antarctica. Prior in this year His Serene Highness Prince Albert II underlined Monaco’s commitment with his signature given in a ceremony at the Yacht Club de Monaco.

In February 2018, inspired by the era of the great explorers, the 12 members of the international Expedition ANTARTIC BLANC set sail to Antarctica through one of the most dangerous seaways on the planet, the Drake-Passage. Their aim was to raise international awareness and draw attention to the essential need to maintain and protect the unique Antarctic ecosystem. On Deception Island, the Expedition recognized the Antarctic explorers and the establishment of the Antarctic Treaty, in a solemn and dignified manner, paying tribute in the form of an international commemoration ceremony. A wreath formed out of Antarctic ice, was laid in the name of 19 nations, which gave permission to officially act on behalf of them. In addition, ANTARCTIC BLANC supported the UNEP’s “Clean Seas” initiative to combat plastic waste in and on the world’s oceans. Furthermore, the expedition gathered data for the University of Connecticut’s and the Northeastern University’s Ocean Genome Legacy Center Research Project for the meta-barcoding of plankton, which in turn could play a fundamental role in providing answers to the ecosystem’s response to climate change.

Netherlands’ Polar Symposium Keynote Highlights

Captured in a video. IMPRESSIONS: Expedition Antarctic Blanc & The Netherlands Polar Symposium Keynote Highlights (Special Video Cut). GOST delegation hands over Expedition flag to the Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken Arctic Ambassador Carola van Rijnsoever. Keynotes held by Carola van Rijnsoever and Jochen Werne, Expedition Leader. GOST Delegation: Bernd Lehmann, Götz Credé, Philippe Quynh Nguyen & Christopher Betjemann III

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Challenging the status quo – Design Thinking and the financial industry

McKinsey Quarterly recently released an inspiring podcast entitled “Tapping into the business value of design” in which Simon London  talks to McKinsey partners Benedict Sheppard and Hyo Yeon. It is very satisfying to see that the interview reflects many of the thoughts that led Bankhaus August Lenz & Co. AG, Mediolanum Banking Group to decide to launch a portrait card package to its German clients. This is the first time that a portrait cards have been launched for German private customers. The cards question the current design status of credit cards and offer not only a classic payment function, but also a 360° customer service experience combining digital, telephone and personal exchange options. 

It has been a great experience challenging again the status quo, together with dedicated and highly experienced and motivated teams within the bank as well as with technology and card industry partners supporting the project.

Enjoy the McKinsey Quarterly podcast  

#design #designthinking #statusquo #creditcard #maestro #mastercard #innovation #banking #bankverlag #payments #ux 

„It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure.“

Author Jochen Werne – Original in German at Bank-Blog – Translation by DeepL

Banks have to become guides for investors

Financial blogs, online communities & Co.: The ubiquitous flood of information can be both a curse and a blessing for bank customers and investors. Today more than ever, banks and savings banks must be “guides” for their customers.

Anyone who wants to invest money today gets a flood of information about the net. Dedicated private investors worldwide can be almost as well informed as professionals, in case of interest and sufficient know-how and time. Never before in the history of mankind have so many people worldwide had so much information at their disposal. Whether prices in real time, the latest assessments by analysts or experts, key figures on a security in an industry comparison, the diversity of opinion in a community – all this is available around the clock.

How intensively and purposefully this offer is used is another question. It can be assumed that only a minority is so urgently concerned with their investment or can be so concerned at all. In addition, the situation of the decision-maker is adversely affected by two factors: the excessive amount of unfiltered information and the classic behavioral finance problem.

Coping with the abundance of data and big data

Alvin Toffler, who brought the term “information overload” to prominence in his bestseller “Future Shock” in 1970, described the phenomenon and its consequences as follows:

“Information overload occurs when the input quantity of a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision makers have a fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Therefore, if information overload occurs, it is likely that a decrease in decision quality will occur.”

Consequently, it can be concluded that the wealth of information that accumulates every day can hardly be processed by a classic investor alone, let alone placed in the right context. In addition, there is an almost unmanageable and constantly growing mass of financial products for private customers. In short, a large proportion of investment decisions are therefore not made analytically correct, but spontaneously subjectively and emotionally, as the studies by Nobel Prize winners Kahneman and Tversky show.

Banks as a guide only for wealthy clients?

Clay Shirky, writer and consultant for Social and Economic Effects of Internet technologies and well-known in New Media circles, presented an interesting reflection on the problem of information overload:

„It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure.“

This provides a great opportunity for traditional banks to position themselves as problem solvers for the investor. The alternative – at least for wealthy private clients – apart from filtering their own information mass, is dialogue with a competent expert. A person they trust – and trust to not only filter out from the wealth of data what is relevant to their needs, but also to protect them from the classic emotional mistakes of financial decisions in volatile markets.

Development of a new, adequate support concept for all bank customers

All those who do not belong to this clientele, and this is mostly the classic retail customer, have little more than to accept the zero interest rate on their accounts and short-term securities. According to Bundesbank statistics, the majority of Germans have invested their assets in these forms of investment. This makes the Federal Republic a leading nation in financial matters when it comes to missed opportunities, as can be read again and again in the Sunday editions of the major national daily newspapers.

Today more than ever, the function of bank and financial advisors must be to act as filters and guides for customers in the jungle, providing them with a flood of information. Because no algorithm, no digital advisory service can protect the investor from an ill-considered, intuitive and possibly wrong decision. For modern bank management, this means setting up a completely different support concept with cost-efficient consulting structures, a powerful and highly flexible team and the appropriate digital and mobile equipment.