Never before have industries undergone such a rapid transformation process as today. Within just a few decades, entire sectors have changed radically and profoundly. In this process, not only have new business models and providers emerged, but the needs and expectations of clients have also changed at a swift pace.
We believe that in an increasingly digitalised world that is constantly presenting new opportunities and perspectives, it is no longer enough for a company to merely anticipate needs and expectations to remain viable. Rather, it is necessary to place clients’ success at the centre of the Company’s business activities, and enhance clients’ competitive edge for the long term. To underscore this challenge, we evolved our brand in 2020 and defined a new brand claim: “Aareal – Your Competitive Advantage.”
We are now closely looking at:
how we can expand individual dialogue with our clients, and bring our partnership-based approach more fully to bear,
when and how we can get creative in collaboration with our clients and what the success factors are in this respect, and
how we get inspired to develop new products and services while simultaneously securing new markets.
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We see it as our calling to be a partner to our clients. We leverage our comprehensive expertise and experience, and our broad range of services, with the objective of offering our clients the best possible services for their long-term competitive edge. We do not see ourselves merely as a provider of products and services, but rather as a company whose pioneering solutions mean we serve as an advisor, guide and facilitator for our clients.
That is why we believe it is so important to understand market connections, think in a cross-sector way and put ourselves in our client’s position to understand the challenges they are facing. As such, we maintain in-house expert teams for logistics, shopping centre and hotel financings in our Structured Property Financing segment. These expert teams provide us with valuable market insights that we can take advantage of to add value for our clients.
Our teams of experts provide advice for all our financing projects – on an equal footing and in a spirit of partnership.
Naturally, we want to stand by our clients’ sides, particularly during challenging times.
“Naturally, we want to stand by our clients’ sides, particularly during challenging times,” says Steffen Bruns, Managing Director Business Development & Strategy at Aareal Bank. “Because that’s when one needs powerful partners the most. That is why, for example, we approached our clients in the Structured Property Financing segment shortly after the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis to discuss their particular situations and, where necessary, show them what options they had.”
Our Management Board member Christof Winkelmann describes how clients benefit from our special sector expertise in a video interview.
Managing Director Special Property Finance, Aareal Bank
“Within a few weeks, after a host of different Covid-19-related global restrictions were introduced in mid-March, we had worked with our clients to formulate short-term strategies for dealing with the exceptional situation. By engaging in a regular and frequent dialogue with our clients, we can adjust these strategies together to adapt to constantly changing conditions. This measure helped considerably to stabilise the situation – and at the same time fostered a long-term relationship based on trust between Aareal Bank and its clients.”
Director – Investments, Archer Hotel Capital
“Despite all the turmoil that 2020 brought there were some successes. Probably our company’s biggest achievement was the €380 million portfolio financing with Aareal Bank. We don’t believe it would have been possible without the shared trust and sense of partnership that our respective organisations have built over the years. Thank you to the entire Aareal Team!”
It is also important to us to spark ideas and contribute to a deeper exchange between players. That applies especially to clients from the housing and energy sectors that we provide services to in the Banking & Digital Solutions segment, and at Aareon. Which is why we launched the WE.thinkfuture initiative in 2020. Its aim is to establish a cross-sector dialogue that connects the housing and energy industries, fosters innovation and exchanges with start-ups, identifies change processes at an early stage and actively influences the future. One of the central facets of this work is the client as a driver of innovation.
The feedback that we received from this initiative has been very positive. Over the course of a week, more than 650 participants and 26 experts considered future challenges and current trends in 11 sessions: from the prevailing tension between the drive to innovate and cost pressure, to success factors such as networking and the willingness to cooperate, to the significance of an infrastructure approach that starts small but is aimed at comprehensive framework solutions that propel the development of e-mobility or smart districts. We set a discussion about the future in motion that we will continue and develop in the years to come.
With our digital conference “WE.thinkfuture 2020” in October 2020, we facilitated the exchange of views and opinions amongst experts from the housing, start-up and energy sectors on innovation, trends, and cross-sectoral approaches. A summary video is available here.
Find out how digital transformation in the energy industry can succeed, in our white paper “Mastering transformation” (in German only).
Clients know best what they want. And increasingly, they demand products and services that meet their individual expectations. That is why it simply makes sense to involve clients in the product development process early on, and to systematically take into account their needs and expectations during the design phase of a solution.
We rely on the co-creation approach when developing new products and services, particularly in our Banking & Digital Solutions and Aareon segments, and increasingly so. This entails, for example, using agile, iterative and client-centred methods, such as design thinking.
Dr André Rasquin
“With Aareon Wodis Yuneo, we have expanded the ERP system to efficiently meet the challenges of the industry with modern technology. It is a dynamic product that we will continue to develop in collaboration with our clients. That will ensure that it is future-proof and a safe investment for property companies for the long term.”
A good example is Aareon's development of Wodis Yuneo. Wodis Yuneo is the new product generation of the Wodis Sigma ERP system which enables the use of new technologies such as business intelligence, artificial intelligence, big data and robotics. This makes it possible to automate a lot of routine tasks, give users tips and recommendations and make use of intelligent tools and analytics components.
By involving users in many of the product development stages, an ERP system was developed that accommodates a diverse range of different needs. Users can personalise their cockpits and individually tailor how they navigate the system, for example by using a mouse, keyboard, touchscreen or voice commands. Wodis Yuneo also answers users' demands for greater flexibility. Users will be able to access all the data at any time, whether at the office, when working from home or using mobile devices; the ERP system can be run as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, or as an inhouse solution. Thanks to the way it seamlessly communicates with BK01, the leading process for payment transactions for the housing sector, users can use Wodis Yuneo to automate their mass payments.
“Wodis Yuneo will inspire many employees to embrace innovation. This is precisely the sort of momentum required for the implementation of what can be complex digitalisation processes in the company.”
We followed a similar co-creation approach when developing Aareal Meter. Aareal Meter will help companies from the energy and housing industries as well as municipalities and other involved service providers to digitalise meter readings, thus boosting efficiency in what used to be a time-consuming and error-prone exercise to date. This solution emerged as a result of a strategic collaboration between Aareal Bank Group and pixolus, a start-up specialised in mobile data collection, and from systematically incorporating client requests in every major phase of product development. This constellation and the use of one of pixolus's existing products as a starting point meant that a shared idea became a market-ready product within twelve months, and it is already being used by the first customers.
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In the search for new ideas and innovative approaches, we are also looking to give a leg up to younger companies. They often have the courage and creativity to radically challenge established business models and to test the potential of the latest technologies. In addition, start-up companies generally exhibit a highly agile corporate culture that enables comparatively fast product development timelines.
We want to further enhance our innovative force and offer our clients the greatest added value.
With our start-up programme, we are targeting different types of collaborations with FinTechs, PropTechs and other start-ups. We are supporting accelerator programmes, entering into cooperations with start-ups and investing in young promising companies, and the Aareon subsidiary Ampolon Ventures is founding its own start-ups.
The goal of these activities is to better understand what drives digital development and how trends can be translated into pioneering solutions. We want to further enhance our innovative force and offer our clients the greatest added value. It is also important to us that we challenge ourselves, and question how future-proof our culture and our processes are.
Ampolon Ventures is a subsidiary of Aareon. As a venture capital provider, it not only brings together technology-minded sector experts, but also launches its own start-ups.
Thomas Gawlitta, founder of PropTech start-up Gawlitta.com, outlines which impulses PropTechs bring to the property industry – and what it takes to achieve this – in a video.
In our collaborations with PropTechs and FinTechs, which increasingly are turning into important industry experts, it is vital to be intellectually invested. We deliver sector know-how, provide infrastructure and contribute our contacts to the partnership. This is due to our conviction that sometimes the decisive innovative spark is just a collaboration away.
We have high expectations for our most recent investment in objego; objego specialises in the development and operation of a web-based digital platform for managing property portfolios for private landlords of up to 250 units. With the joint venture in objego and the associated partnership with the energy service provider ista, we are not only driving the expansion of our software solution-based product offering, but also expanding into new markets such as the B2C business for private landlords. Our investment in objego is an expression of our strategy to steadily grow our product and service offering in the Banking & Digital Solutions segment, to close attractive market gaps and increase commission income.
Director, Plug & Play
“Innovation is not something new but it is getting more complex every day. Collaboration needs, more than ever, to be intrinsic within a corporation's strategy and cultural mindset. Banks shouldn't be trying to conquer the market by themselves, instead, finding the right partner for it is essential either with a start-up, scale-up, SME, or another corporation.”
Managing Director, Ampolon Ventures
“As a young and innovative company in the property segment, our goal is to develop ventures with trailblazing solutions. With Ophigo, foxxbee and Ecaria, we are involved in three ventures with future potential.”
Breaking new ground
Philip Rodowski (objego) and Henning Zander (Aareal Bank) talk about the collaboration between start-ups and established players.