The history of the Aareal Bank Group has been closely connected to the city of Wiesbaden for many decades. What was once an alternative solution realized out of necessity after World War II, has quickly proven itself to be an advantageous location. The Aareal Bank today is one of the leading international real estate specialists and is represented by employees from 30 different states in 19 countries on three continents – Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. Its head office in Wiesbaden is at an optimal location in the Rhine district due to its proximity, on the one hand, to the international banking centre in and around Frankfurt am Main, and on the other hand, to the international business university European Business School (ebs) in the Rheingau.
For internationally positioned companies like the Aareal Bank, it is especially true: Expertise and innovative power are two of the most important success factors in international competition. The strongest companies are those that have the best employees available – and can keep them. In order to fulfill professional demands, constant training and continuing education is a must.
Expertise, knowledge, know-how, qualification – behind all these is the superordinate concept of “education”. A country like Germany and a region like Hessen must devote all their resources to holding their position as an economic centre. Education is the resource that we can and must use to lift ourselves up in the future of the globalized world. The Aareal Bank Group is aware of its social responsibility and invests part of its earnings back into society in the form of education sponsorships.
It thereby not only promotes its own employees, junior scientists and trainees, but also makes an essential contribution to securing the future of the economic centre Wiesbaden and the region in general.
In the company’s internal “Aareal Academy,” a type of corporate university, the Aareal Bank combines all measures in its fostering of education. It follows the continuing education philosophy that employees should always continue to work on their expertise. In the banking segment of the Aareal Bank Group alone, each employee took part in training and continuing education seminars within the framework of the Aareal Academy on an average of five days in the work year 2008.
The Academy not only offers special procedures and programmes to employees, management staff and experts, but also techniques for personal human resources development, integration programmes for new employees, special trainee programmes, programmes for interns and – it should be particularly emphasized – cooperation with universities such as the Real Estate Management Institute (REMI), the European Business School (EBS) in Oestrich-Winkel and the University of Cambridge. In addition, through the subsidiary Aareon, the company is involved in close collaboration with the University of Economics and the Environment (Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Umwelt) in Nürtingen-Geislingen in a degree programme in real estate management.
The Aareal Bank has had very good experiences with the close association of science and practice for many years. In 2006 it established a professorship for the REMI and since then has been the main sponsor of the Aareal professorship for real estate investing and financing. With this collaboration, two high-performance partners have found each other who fit ideally together: in their demands to be active in their respective areas and in their international position. In the view of Aareal Bank, REMI is a valuable interface to the scientific knowledge of real estate management instruction. Thus, the Aareal Bank can always be up to date on the latest state of the art in science. The advantages for employees are obvious: Through dialogue with the teachings, they can continue to develop their expertise further. The Aareal Bank offers its employees various on-the-job courses of study to complete at the REMI – with great success: Again and again, graduates from the bank have been among the year’s best. In addition, regular specialist lectures by internal and external speakers are part of the everyday work of the Aareal bankers. With the diverse possibilities of continuing education, the company attracts its employees to the location, since it offers constant vocational development: The Aareal Bank can recruit around 80 per cent of its specialist and management staff out of its own ranks. That makes the company an attractive employer.
Last but not least, the close combination of practice and science is also an advantage for customers, since specialists at the Aareal Bank remain innovative, “up-to-date” and flexible in the search for new paths to solutions. Together with its knowledge of individual needs, the company can optimally serve its customers and build up and extend partnerships over the long term.
But it is not only the employees of Aareal Bank who profit from the social involvement of the bank in education. This close contact to practice is available to all students at the REMI. The students accompany “real” case studies and try to solve problems that actually occur in practice. For example, they make feasibility and economic viability calculations for various ongoing projects from companies and use questions from the sponsors as topics in their studies and dissertations.
In addition, since 2008 one important component of the cooperation between Aareal Bank and REMI has been the “Aareal Award of Excellence in Real Estate Research”. This research prize, awarded yearly, distinguishes outstanding scientific work in real estate management teaching and is granted with a bonus of 12,000 euros. It has been internationally announced since 2009 and is triggering a great response: In 2009, 30 specialist contributions were received in total, a third of those from abroad. The prize is awarded by an independent jury.
With all these options, the Aareal Bank makes a convincing argument for more involvement of companies in science. Because science is an investment in the future. Strengthening Wiesbaden as an education centre also strengthens it as an economic centre. Whoever assumes this responsibility also contributes to securing the future of the region.
The author has been CEO of Aareal Bank AG since 2005. From 2003 to 2005, he held two positions in double function as the speaker of the board of the Deutsche Genossenschafts-Hypothekenbank AG as well as deputy chairman of VR Immobilien AG. Dr. Wolf Schumacher was born in 1958, is a lawyer and earned a doctorate from the University of Hamburg.