It's incredible how a colorful gathering of women from the financial industry at an event can lead to so much good vibes: No train strike and no fully booked hotels in Mannheim could stand in the way on January 23rd. Around 300 women found their way to this year's Fondsfrauen Summit at the Leonardo Hotel Mannheim.

A packed program (and nice goodie bags) provided for interesting insights, takeaways, and contacts, as networking is just as much a focus of this event as the exchange of information.

What AI can do, and what it can't
For the start of the main event, Anne Connelly welcomed the participants to the main program, and it immediately started with a wealth of information.

The renowned AI expert and Spiegel best-selling author Prof. Dr. Katharina Zweig (TU Kaiserslautern) spoke about the possibilities, but also the pitfalls of artificial intelligence. Conclusion: AI cannot do as much as many of us think, but it can take over repetitive and unpopular work well.

Then, Anke Dembowski moderated the high-caliber panel discussion: "Artificial Intelligence in Asset Management", which focused on the role AI already plays in asset management and how it will change research, sales, and investment decisions. The panelists were:

  • Madeleine Sander, Board Member at Hauck Aufhäuser Lampe Privatbank AG
  • Anja Mikus, CEO and CIO, KENFO
  • Angela Summonte, Group Director Key Accounts, alterDomus

Conclusion: AI is already used in many places in the financial industry, but data protection and compliance departments still urge caution. Therefore, the development - especially in Germany - is not as fast as it could be technically.

The Eternal Balancing Act: Reconciling Family and Career
Anne Connelly
moderated a very lively discussion round on the reconciliation of family and career, and how this balancing act can succeed. The discussion focused not only on the topic of children, but also on the care of relatives, which is also moving into the foreground given the demographic situation. The following participants engaged in the discussion and gave remarkable best-practice examples:

  • Cawa Younosi, Germany’s 40 HR Minds, Germany’s Nr. 1 HR Influencer, Ex-SAP
  • Nadja Peters, Head of HR, Flossbach von Storch
  • Miriam von Wallis, Head of HR, MEAG
  • Britta Mues-Walter, Co-Founder and Managing Director, &ahead

Conclusion: Many companies are coming up with good things to enable their employees extensive flexibility in the face of the skilled labor shortage, thereby keeping them in the company.

Female Health: The Invisible female Patient (but also the invisible male patient)
To meet all the challenges that job, family, and leisure time demand from us, the topic of health is highly relevant. Prof. Dr. Sabine Oertelt-Progione from the Medical Faculty for Gender-Sensitive Medicine at the University of Bielefeld reported on the Gender Health Gap and the drastic consequences the male standard in medicine can have for women. However, she also mentioned that the non-consideration of gender-sensitive health data in certain diseases can also disadvantage men, resulting in later diagnosis and consequently later therapy.

Conclusion: A gender-sensitive health care system would be desirable for everyone - men and women - and could improve our health system!

Active vs. Passive Investing
Few would have thought that the eternal question of active vs. passive portfolio management could be so entertaining. Under the moderation of Manuela Fröhlich perfect financial entertainment was offered. The panelists were:

  • Stephan Fritz, Portfolio Director Multi Asset, Flossbach von Storch
  • Helen Windischbauer, Head of Multi-Asset Solutions, Amundi
  • Charlotte Friedrichs, Portfoliomanager, Columbia Threadneedle Investments
  • Chris Hofmann, Head of Intermediated Wholesale Germany & Austria, Vanguard

Conclusion: Both approaches can lead to good results, even after costs, and the more niche a market is, the more worthwhile active management is. So, the round ended in a 1:1 draw.

Courageous Star Guests from Among the Participants
Next, there was again the popular format "Courage is Good", which was introduced as a spontaneous design last year and has brought many inspiring stories to light. This year, it was also quiet tones that showed how bravely women sometimes have to go through life, for example, when dealing with serious illnesses or re-entering the profession after a break.

Workshop for Young Professionals
Simin Heuser
and Julia Bewerunge led the discussion round for young professionals and gave deep insights into the very broad range of professions in our industry in their relaxed discussion round. The participants in the discussion round were:

  • Jessica HaasnerGroup Leader Accounting Companies, Union Investment
  • Johanna Goeckel, Coverage Specialist Xtrackers, DWS
  • Charlotte Neugebauer, Department Head for Certificates and Product Marketing, DEKA
  • Wiebke Kuhne, Director, Head of Institutional Clients, Golding Capital Partners

In the subsequent speed dating, the young participants could immediately find out which job profiles the companies are looking for and what requirements apply for them.

Conclusion: Companies can hardly start too early to interest young talents in the financial industry, in order to fill the pipeline (of course also with women) for possible leadership positions.

Workshop for Financial Consultants
In times when there are plenty of retirement and investment calculators on the internet and financial coaching can be easily booked, the question arises as to how financial advisors can offer their clients high-quality additional benefits.

Under the moderation of Annika Peters (CFP, Managing Director, FrauenFinanzBeratung, Barbara Rojahn & Colleagues), the following panelists discussed:

  • Annika Glükher, Sr. Sales Managerin, Investify
  • Lisa Hassenzahl, Managing Director, HFO Her Family Office GmbH
  • Hava Misimi, Managing Director, Femance Finanzen GmbH

Conclusion: There is additional benefit through good advice! The panelists presented numerous possibilities from their practice on how they can provide enormous benefit for their clients.

Masterclass Storytelling
This time, for the first time, a masterclass took place in a small group. Story coach Adriana Richter gave this concentrated class on the topic: "The Power and Secrets of Storytelling - Learn how to communicate successfully with stories". Rating: Very inspiring!

Conclusion: Stories can open up the audience and achieve a lot, considering that people can remember stories 20 times better than mere facts.

Working Group Senior Professionals
The Senior Professionals working group also met in the Networking Lounge to inform interested parties about the activities of this working group and to gain new participants. On the evening before the summit, this circle of powerful women had already met personally at Café Flo. Rating: Very entertaining!

Conclusion: Senior Professionals have a wealth of experience and resilient networks, which they are also happy to share with their younger colleagues.

Big Thank You!
A big thank you at this point to all participants and also to the sponsors of the event, who made this great day possible:

Golding Capital Partners, Flossbach von Storch, KPMG Germany, Amundi, Columbia Threadneedle Investments EMEA APAC, Deka Investment, Fidelity Investments, MEAG, Alter Domus, Vanguard, Vontobel, and to our long-time media partner FONDS Professionell Multimedia GmbH. You can find their article, written by Andrea Martens, here. Here.

See you next year!
It was a great pleasure to welcome you in person in Mannheim again. Thank you very much for the numerous attendance (despite the train difficulties) and your great feedback! We look forward to seeing you again next year!

Photo credit: Toni Hofmann

Profilbild von Anke Dembowski

Anke Dembowski

Anke Dembowski is a financial journalist and author of various investment fund-related and other financial books. She is also a co-founder of the "Fondsfrauen" network.

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