“According to THE ECONOMIST, Frankfurt is a very liveable city; moreover, the cultivated professional exchange of ideas on asset management topics is a great pleasure here.”
Frankfurt as a financial center, know-how, asset management & social media, investor education, fund boutiques, family offices, Don Bosco, ESG and impact investing – IPE D.A.CH Editor-in-Chief Frank Schnattinger spoke with Markus Hill about these topics as well as expert discussions on site about an investor study by Telos & Artis and the Consultant Day by Caceis. In addition, topics such as “Swiss in Germany” and Frankfurt in India were discussed and indications of activities in the 2nd half of 2022 were given.
IPE D.ACH: Frankfurt is one of the 10 most liveable cities in Germany. Did this result surprise you?
Hill: According to THE ECONOMIST, Frankfurt is a very liveable city. Moreover, the cultivated professional exchange of ideas on asset management topics is a great pleasure here. You are right in your formulation, the astonishment. For many fans and “opponents” of the city, it came as a surprise, unexpectedly. Of course, it surprised me. In the meantime, I have taken the city to my heart, but I also know its somewhat unsavoury sides. By the way, this observation can be applied to many cities, including my original home, Cologne. I posted two messages about this ranking on my “Financial Center Frankfurt am Main” channel on LinkedIn. The first posting (article: “Frankfurt is better than ever to live in”, FRANKFURTER NEUE PRESSE) received mostly positive feedback. The second, critical posting (article: “Frankfurt am Main: Were the decision-makers on crack?!”, DIE ZEIT) received some very interesting reactions. I thought it was very good, especially since the potential for optimizing the city was specifically addressed here. Since I look after a few professionally oriented communities on LinkedIn in addition to my “Frankfurt promotion hobby” (FONDSBOUTIQUEN, PRIVATE LABEL FONDS, FUNDS BOUTIQUES, CAT BONDS), I follow the communication dynamics on these different channels with great interest. In my opinion, the asset management industry on average is still somewhat reserved, on the hunt for, and also uncertain when it comes to social media and asset management. What is interesting here above all is that there seems to be a gap between the generations. To various representatives of the traditionally oriented “print media faction”, this medium still seems somewhat mysterious, perhaps even “dubious” in parts. I was probably lucky enough to have been very actively involved with this topic area since 2013. Even today, I am still a learner, and make mistakes – especially the younger generations who seem to be more fluid in their thinking in this regard, so to speak, they work and sometimes live very intensively with these media (LinkedIn, Xing, Instagram & Co.). With all the advantages and disadvantages, the old can still learn a lot from the young. Of course, one should not forget one negative aspect – only social media without an analogue world should be considered a danger. Education needs attention span, the ability to concentrate, and frustration tolerance, here there are undeniably very negative effects of these media. By the way, when it comes to Frankfurt, things are always very passionate – in contrast to the purely technical discussion on my other LinkedIn channels. I simply like Frankfurt very much, even though I was born in Bonn and moved from Cologne to Frankfurt in 1996. As a Rhinelander, this “village with skyscrapers” has won a deep place in my heart!
IPE D.ACH: You also support, promote and organise local events from time to time. What makes the Frankfurt location so interesting?
Hill: As I have said earlier if you get more involved with the local networks, neo-German “ecosystems”, it becomes very clear that there is a diversity of opinions, know-how, nationalities, leisure activities, and more. As described above, one can be divided into opinions. It is undisputed that the financial center of Frankfurt in Hesse has a wide-ranging area. From an economic point of view, it can be compared, for example, with the networking and expansion of the Ruhr area. With the one, decisive difference: Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, and Hesse as federal states – of course, the economic power here locally is completely different. Universities, cooperations, the airport, the international diversity, and the undisputed role as a financial center are all points in favour of Frankfurt. Then there’s the central location in Germany – you can get everywhere quickly, and “everywhere” in Germany is also quite easy to reach.
The Museum Embankment, Eintracht Frankfurt, the ECB, and the unique Frankfurt skyline – are some of the many points that make this location interesting nationwide and internationally, not only for events and the exchange of ideas. And no – I don’t have a contract with the Frankfurt Tourist Office, but I am admittedly a little less neutral in my views. I was also impressed by the activities of local organizations such as Frankfurt Main Finance, Wirtschaftsförderung Frankfurt GmbH, and FrankfurtRheinMain GmbH International Marketing of the Region. As with me, one cannot deny a certain bias in these organizations. But the fact is that these and many other organizations in the “Frankfurt fan network” cooperate excellently, often passing the balls to each other on the spot.
IPE D.ACH: You work as an asset management consultant. Which topics are you currently following with greater interest?
Hill: Value investing, commodities, funds of funds, real assets, and ESG and impact investing. These are areas I have been looking at more closely for a long time. Here I look less at the product shell and the packaging. Mutual funds, special funds, liquid versus illiquid (AIF), direct investments – interestingly, as is so often the case, this is where things get very interesting at “the edges” when observing the market. In the first half of the year, I had one of many opportunities to exchange ideas in addition to these areas by moderating various panels or events with points of contact to these topics. Once again, Frankfurt as an event location has proven its role as a high-quality ecosystem. On the topic of Family Offices & Impact Investing, I was able to accompany an interesting discussion at the 5th Sustainable Investor Summit. In addition to due diligence and the importance of NextGen as investors, one focus here was the status of the current discussion on the topic of “sense economy”. The discussion also had a personal connection in that I used to often take part in the supervision and youth trips at the Don Bosco Club in Cologne and it was all about education, Don Bosco, and issuing bonds for students. At the Markets Group, I had the opportunity to accompany a panel discussion at the 4th Annual Germany Institutional Forum in May. There was an interesting discussion with Karg Stiftung, FERI, and Mirabaud on fields such as alternative investments, commodities, and convertible bonds. I was able to discuss the topics “Real Estate, Alternative Investments, and ESG” in detail during a video discussion in Frankfurt. Seed money, investor education, fund boutiques, and infrastructure investments were some of the keywords addressed here in video production for the EB-SIM Academy. I had the opportunity to talk in detail with Bernhard Graeber from EB-SIM, Alexander Scholz from Telos and Sebastian Thürmer from Artis. The EB – Sustainable Investment Management (EB-SIM) co-sponsored the study by Telos & Artis (initiators of the study, 2021 & 2022), I enjoyed the format of the discussion. Mr. Graeber’s perspective was also particularly interesting, as, on the one hand, he was able to present the role of the asset manager in the field of renewable energies, but on the other hand, he was also able to provide interesting insights into the process of due diligence of investments due to his former work at EnBW and Talanx. At the Caceis Consultant Day a fortnight ago, I was able to present the results of the Funds Europe study on the topic of “Climate Risk & Asset Management” in Frankfurt and then lead a panel discussion with experts from Caceis, Amundi, Credit Plus and Credit Agricole CIB. Topics such as ESG, product management, knowledge management, and the importance of data in these segments in terms of quality, quantity, and consistency (for example artificial intelligence & ESG ratings) were addressed.
IPE D.ACH: What topics and activities are on your agenda for the second half of the year?
Hill: This year, I will again support the event “Value Investing, Commodities & Investing like an Entrepreneur”, and in Switzerland, Natural Resources Day is also coming up in Zurich. In addition, I will be supporting SIA Funds AG with moderation and invitations for other formats. In September, SIA Funds will also hold events in Cologne, Munich, and Hamburg in cooperation with FAM Frankfurt Asset Management AG (Frankfurt fund boutique, investments in high-yield bonds). Honovi is supporting Martin Friedrich of Lansdowne Partners Austria (LPA) as a placement agent, and we are also in the process of planning stage for event formats. There is an interesting field of discussion here regarding the role of funds of funds for semi-institutional as well as for private, high-net-worth investors. In June, I had the opportunity to attend a family office panel at the Markets Group at the Private Wealth Germany Hamburg Forum on the topic of “Current Investment Trends in Family Offices, Impact Investing & ESG”. Tobias Karow from stiftungsmarktplatz.eu had also given me an interesting topic for my second half of the year through a short telephone survey on “What can foundations learn from family offices”. I will conduct this survey again – in a more structured way – in autumn, and a small exchange of ideas event on this is also being planned. I am also watching the developments in the real estate sector with interest. Maybe a lot of things are happening. Just out-of-the-box – I am interested in India and Indian culture, and enjoy Indian cuisine with enthusiasm, even as a non-vegetarian. I was invited by Red Ribbon Asset Management to get an insight into the topic of location analysis “real estate” in Delhi and Mumbai. Sunny Chowdhry (fund advisor, Substantia Real Estate) was able to explain to me some of the factors why European investors should at least take a closer look at emerging markets and India’s role in real estate investments.
IPE D.ACH: Thank you very much for the insights.
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