Sausage, rolls, butter, coffee – and a laptop on the breakfast table: ex-banker Ulrich Messerschmidt chatted with us virtually about his retirement and the future of financial institutions. (Christian Kosak)
Osterholz-Scharmbeck. Ulrich Messerschmidt reveals his other side. Most people still know him as CEO of the Kreissparkasse Osterholz and the Sparkasse Rotenburg-Osterholz. The 60-year-old said goodbye to this at the beginning of November – Ulrich Messerschmidt has retired. Interest, balance sheets and credits are no longer his profession, but just this other side. “I’m an old rock music fan,” admits Ulrich Messerschmidt, “my first LP was ‘Machine Head’ by Deep Purple”.
His interlocutors are amazed! A banker as a metalhead, where do you get that? Ulrich Messerschmidt absolutely has to go on and he likes to do so. At first, when I was ten, the Beatles still existed. “But somehow Deep Purple was in the room. I was a big fan of Richie Blackmoore. “He was so crazy. But because of him he started to learn classical guitar. For the people who don’t know Richie Blackmoore: He was a guitarist and founding member of Deep Purple. There he got out in 1975 and founded Rainbow.
But back to Ulrich Messerschmidt. Question: Does he compose? Answer: “I also compose.” The in-house studio was already planned. But because of the corona pandemic, he stopped the project. “I’ve already been to the runway,” says Messerschmidt with a laugh. He lets it be known that he is not keen on playing in front of an audience: “The best thing is to sit together and inspire each other.”
But that is almost impossible at the moment. Even breakfast takes place differently this time due to the corona pandemic and the task of restricting social contacts as much as possible. Ulrich Messerschmidt made himself comfortable for breakfast with the OSTERHOLZER KREISBLATT in his living room. In front of him coffee, butter, chocolate croissants and his tablet. Because: Breakfast takes place online. A completely new way of enjoying your morning coffee. So that the virtual visitor can see a bit of Ulrich Messerschmidt’s house, he turns the tablet. Dog Freddy comes into the picture.
A swivel from music to Ulrich Messerschmidt’s life as a banker or as ex-CEO. The last thing he had to manage was the first lockdown in the spring. “It gave me some sleepless nights,” he admits while sipping his coffee. As a public company, the Sparkasse is “committed to the people”. As a result, those responsible sit “between tree and bark”: Should the branches and offices remain open in the interests of customers? And what about the protection of employees with customer contact?
At the end of the year it became clear: Corona also acts as an accelerator in terms of digitization in the money and credit business. “This is where the need for action became apparent,” says Ulrich Messerschmidt. More and more customers are taking advantage of the corresponding offers, even if there are always and still customers “who want to continue to have their branch office”. Against this background, says Messerschmidt, the Sparkasse is “quite good hybrid”. He pushes between two croissants -Bite a forecast afterwards: “The online branch will be the largest branch of the future.”
With this statement, Ulrich Messerschmidt picks up the ball, which now inevitably comes into play: Where will the Sparkasse be in a few years? The retired banker sees two camps here: one anticipates the wishes of its customers and has the courage to rebuild, the other remains with its traditional line. These savings banks will have disappeared from the market in a decade, believes the new retiree.
From Ulrich Messerschmidt’s point of view, the savings banks that are brave have a good chance. He makes it clear how this can be done using the example of the manufacturing industry: it is important to reduce vertical integration, and that works well. “The savings bank of the future is less a producer of services and more a retailer.” But they all still have to learn that. “It’s not rooted in the Sparkasse DNA.”
And what about Messerschmidt’s future? It won’t just consist of the music. Ulrich Messerschmidt will not retire completely – if he is also active in other fields. Because one thing has always been important to him: promoting young talent. That is why he accepted a lectureship at the Bremen Administration and Business Academy.
It should actually start at the beginning of the winter semester. But Corona thwarted his plans. “We are now starting the summer semester 2021,” he says. So long the music is in the foreground – and maybe then Richie Blackmoore can be heard again at the Messerschmidts. But please at the volume it deserves.