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WGZ Ireland’s head on why Dublin is a prime location for financial services Back
WGZ CEO Werner Schwanberg has worked for 21 years in Dublin initially taking up the reins of chief executive at Dresdner Bank’s franchise in the IFSC which was founded by Ernst Matthiensen as one of the pathbreaking German banks in Ireland. He is now chief executive of WGZ Bank and plays a major role in a number of organisations including the German Irish Chamber of Commerce.
6:30 a.m. The alarm rings at home in Knocklyon. It used to be 6:00 a.m. in the past, but easing traffic in Dublin nowadays affords me the luxury of an additional hour sleep. While I am getting ready, Frances, my wife, prepares a light breakfast consisting of toast and coffee. We briefly discuss the plans for the day, which in Frances’ case include two grown up children temporarily living with us plus our lovely granddaughter, who she babysits while her parents are at work. By 7:15 a.m. I leave the house for the half hour drive to my office in the IFSC.
Werner Schwanberg

7:45 a.m. Following initial updates on Irish and world matters on the radio during my drive, the quiet of the office at this hour gives me a chance to read Irish and German newspapers undisturbed.

8:00 a.m. Enjoying a second cup of coffee or tea I review the daily risk reports which were computer generated over night. I then check my emails and deal with as many as possible directly to avoid building up a backlog. Taking advantage of the time difference, I make phone calls to colleagues at head office in Dusseldorf to discuss risk positions and investment strategies and I talk to our chairman about preparations for the next board meeting.

9:00 a.m. By now the team is complete and I exchange greetings with my colleagues while catching up on the latest news, gossip and sports results. I am lucky that Ireland offers such a variety of sports to follow. So when my home football teams of Germany and Bayern Munich fail to deliver, I have always the GAA to turn to as an enthusiastic supporter of Clare hurling (Frances is from Clare) and Dublin football. Together with my assistant we update the diary and plan or confirm the events of the day ahead.

10:00 a.m. I chair the weekly management meeting with the heads of markets, credit, finance, operations, risk and compliance. Each of us presents current developments in his area of responsibility and we exchange views on a number of subjects. We also debate challenges for the bank and decide on courses of action. I am in the lucky position to report on satisfactory half year results in a very challenging financial environment. While generally diverse, the majority of our business is in Europe and, therefore, exposed to the difficult financial and political European environment. We note with pleasure that Ireland is on a firm road to recovery, a fact I often highlight in my discussions with the governing bodies of the group. Among other topics we discuss what contribution the bank can make to support the multi departmental Irish initiative ‘The Gathering 2013’ which is a major project geared towards enhancing tourism in Ireland through special initiatives in 2013. After the meeting it is now time for me to review the day’s written correspondence and initiate replies where appropriate.

11:00 a.m. I have arranged for members of our audit committee to meet with the newly appointed head of the group’s internal audit department to whom we have outsourced our internal audit function. I attend as host. The meeting goes well and sets the basis for the future working relationship between audit committee and internal audit. Following this I return to my desk and check on emails, some of which concern non executive mandates I hold in other companies. I send off a few messages and make a couple of phone calls.

12:30 p.m. I meet up with a friend and colleague from another German owned bank whose offices are nearby and we go to our favourite Chinese Restaurant, M&L, off O’Connell Street for a lunchtime snack. During lunch we catch up on subjects of mutual interest to the non Irish banking community as well as on our families and general world affairs. We also have a little moan about the weather.

1:30 p.m. Back at my desk I answer correspondence and draft papers for the next board meeting. Several phone calls need answering and there is a constant flow of entering and leaving colleagues with whom I discuss business issues.

3:00 p.m. I meet in my office with our heads of markets and finance and we plan and prepare the agenda for next week’s ALCO/risk committee meeting. They have just left, when two members of our staff social committee come in to talk about remaining events for the year (which to my horror already includes the necessity to discuss the proposed Christmas party).

4:00 p.m. I have a visitor from a large asset management company with whom I had arranged to meet to exchange views on asset valuation. When he leaves, I check on my emails again, send out a few replies, review and sign documents which I scan and send back to the designate recipients. I then leave the bank to drive to the offices of the German Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce on Fitzwilliam Square. The bank is a long standing member and supporter of the chamber. The bank and I benefit greatly from the chamber network which includes many contacts from various industries and from the public sector.
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5:00 p.m. As a councillor I take part in the regular council meeting at which the whole spectrum of chamber business is discussed. Among many other things, the chamber works closely with the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Embassy in Berlin to promote Irish interests and to uphold and improve Ireland’s image abroad. I had the pleasure of representing it on two occasions at the Global Irish Forum held in Dublin by the previous and current governments. The council acts as a board of management and determines strategy and policy of the organisation. Following the meeting I remain to discuss some specific matters with the CEO of the chamber.

6:30 p.m. I get into my car and drive home. At this stage I feel sufficiently informed about financial and political affairs and I prefer to listen to an audio book. I have discovered those as a pleasant pastime for longer car journeys. My collection has grown considerably and I find it more and more challenging to find interesting new titles.

7:15 p.m. With traffic being a bit slower in the evening I arrive home. I am lucky in that my two daughters and my son as well as my granddaughter, Alanna, are in the house. I take great pleasure in spending some time with them, especially since Alanna at the age of 11 has become quite a sophisticated, if somewhat cheeky, debater. I ask my son about progress of his thesis now due after completing a masters degree in European Studies in the Netherlands and in Germany and get a vague reply: ‘It’s coming along fine.’

8:00 p.m. I sit down with Frances for some dinner and a cup of tea. We talk about events of the day and plan a weekend away in Kerry for the August bank holiday weekend. Decisions have to be made about plumbing jobs in the house. Several friends and relations will be visiting us during the course of the year from Germany and other places and we plan their programmes as far as we can.

8:45 p.m. We watch the main German news magazine on television for a while and at 9 p.m. change to the Irish news. We have a glass of wine and spend the rest of the evening chatting. I feel privileged to be able to live in Ireland. It has been rewarding both personally and professionally and I have never regretted the move. My family is happy here and we have made many good friends over the years.

11:00 p.m. Anticipating another early rise for work the next day I am ready for bed and retire for a good night’s sleep.
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