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From hidden champions to global corporations: Management boards are well trained, strongly challenged and optimally networked. But how do they acquire the necessary industry knowledge and personality to steer a company and control its fortunes?
Christian Schätzlein is responsible for the team management of the Competence Centers in the Professional & Executive Education of Frankfurt School. He has long been involved in the qualification of the "first employees" of a company, especially in the banking and finance sector, and has developed a unique educational programme.
"Board training" - How do you explain this term to your clients and customers?
First of all, there is no training programme that automatically enables you to become a member of the board or to run a bank. Moving up to the top management level is the culmination of a long career in which the candidates have developed professionally and personally. When this step is imminent, the owners of the company generally determine who they consider suitable for management. In the case of German credit institutions, the situation is different: BaFin, the German bank regulator, has got the right of co-determination, if there are doubts as to suitability, to prevent the company from assuming the function of managing director. To prevent this, we have developed a training programme that provides comprehensive industry, specialist and management knowledge and prepares the candidate for the new position.
What service does Frankfurt School offer with this exclusive program?
After all, this is a very special target group. Someone is new to a company or is already there and should be prepared for the next steps - in terms of company succession. This means that we deal intensively with the person in advance, both professionally and personally. This is based among other things on the analysis of the CV and a self-assessment of the candidate on the basis of a catalogue of measures. Based on this, the necessary training needs are determined and a training offer is prepared. The special service before and during the programme consists above all in the special and individual approach of the training consultation, the implementation as executive individual coaching and an individual support. This is unique in the market.
How did the contact and discussions with BaFin, one of the largest financial supervisory authorities in Europe, proceed?
Quite frankly, there is absolutely no direct contact between Frankfurt School and the supervisory authorities in every individual case - and that's a good thing. BaFin must be neutral and examine each individual board candidate for personal suitability. This examination is transparent regardless of where the candidate has acquired his professional and theoretical knowledge. In any case, it does no harm to have completed a qualification at Frankfurt School as a renowned provider with over 50 years of experience in bank board training.
Since the financial crisis, it has become all the more important for BaFin to fulfil its control obligations without restriction - in the interests of both customers and consumers. Transparency and complete information about the management bodies are therefore the significant cornerstones. By the way, the BaFin not only examines the professional qualification, in which we can significantly support the banks, but also the reliability, possible conflicts of interest and whether the candidate would have sufficient time for his new position.
Who are your clients?
Most inquiries come from medium-sized private banks, automotive banks and foreign credit institutions. But also savings banks and large co-operative credit banks belong to the target group. Since the programme is rather high-priced and would overshoot the mark, the demand from small institutions is manageable. In most cases, we are approached by the candidates themselves or by the "Corporate Office", i.e. the committee support or another responsible staff department. Sometimes, however, the current chairman of the board or the responsible supervisory body also calls me directly. Since the assumption of the new function of the prospective managing director has not yet been publicly communicated at the first contact, all discussions are conducted discreetly and in secrecy.
Finally: What makes your concept so unique?
The uniqueness of the concept lies, among other things, in the way we address our customers. We offer participants exclusivity at the highest level. We also always speak of individual support. It is almost never about a group, but about a single person who is in a protected room with us. She can rely on us to be a serious and discreet partner. In this respect, this programme does not stand for big headlines, but is based on our competence from several decades of experience and the deep trust that is placed in us in the industry. Since I developed the program in 2010, more than 100 board members have passed through it and all of them have finally been allowed to work as managing directors.