04 Hf03 Headerbild

#03 Technology and innovation

Aareal Bank Group has been working together closely with the start-up scene for a number of years now.

Aareal's start-up strategy: cooperate, participate or launch its own

Since 2017, contacts have been managed centrally by a virtual team based on four different dimensions: accelerator programmes, partnerships, strategic investments and Aareal Bank Group's own start-ups.

"We expect that cooperating with these new businesses will provide us with insights into how to optimise our organisational performance, develop new financial and payment solutions and expand our product portfolio. In addition, working with them will enable us to anticipate developments early on, and to experiment with new working methods and procedures."

Henning Zander – Head of Aareal Bank Group's Start-up Programme:

The success of our start-up programme can be seen from our large number of equity investments and partnerships:

In 2018, Aareal Bank acquired an equity interest in BrickVest, one of Europe's leading online platforms for commercial property investments. This gives us access to a digital model for the future that is set to become substantially more important in the commercial property finance sector in coming years.

We have also significantly expanded our partnerships with both German and international start-ups recently, and are constantly exploring additional options. For example, we have started working together with Plug and Play, the world's largest start-up platform. As a result of this collaboration, we also became a founding member of the recently launched Fintech Europe platform, which was established in Frankfurt by Plug and Play and TechQuartier. This enables us to work together with the world's best financial sector start-ups and develop applications that are relevant for our clients.

Equally, start-ups are not just a source of ideas but also important partners for our subsidiary Aareon with its Aareon Smart World digital ecosystem. For example, Aareon is supporting blackprint PropTech Booster, an accelerator active in the property start-up scene that aims to bring together innovative young start-ups and established companies. We support this accelerator financially and with advice, and discuss solutions with the start-ups involved that will increase client benefits and extend Aareon Smart World.

"We continue to believe that digitalisation offers huge potential for the property industry. Our partnership with this proptech accelerator will promote knowledge sharing and generate momentum, leading to new, client-oriented solutions. This will benefit both proptechs and established companies."

Dr Manfred Alflen – CEO of Aareon

In 2018, we formed AV Management GmbH (Ampolon Ventures) as an independent company. Going forward, it aims to boost the identification of interesting, innovative topics and to test them on the market. It will do this by establishing start-up ventures and positioning these under separate brand names. Ampolon Ventures is located in WeWork's coworking offices in Frankfurt, which helps it to network with the start-up scene there.

What we are working on

  • Honing the focus of our start-up programme and enhancing its relevance, impact and international reach
  • Implementing the RSF digitalisation initiative:
    • The Aareal Client Cockpit as the digital interface to our clients – clear, user-friendly and optimised for the key loan initiation processes, as well as offering clients the benefits of highly transparent processes and direct communication
    • Smart processes for digitalising business processes that previously involved paper-based work and the need to switch media frequently
    • Upgrading the existing electronic loan file
  • Using robotic process automation technology to increase service quality and be able to respond to and process client requests faster (for example, software robots can be used to perform laborious routine work such as reconciling ERP data)
  • Continuing the regular innovation get-togethers that were launched in October 2018 in order to facilitate and institutionalise information sharing about technology trends and innovative topics

Next articles