My oh my has this trip flown by! It's hard to believe today was our last day in Vienna. Since we were in Vienna over a weekend, we had quite a bit of free time. Today was our only true business visit in Vienna, but it was definitely a good one! We visited BAWAG P.S.K. bank which is headquartered in Vienna. The bank is now owned by New York City based Cerberus Capital Management group. We met and traveled by underground lines to get to the bank location. The old bank building was beautiful and is well-known throughout Vienna because it was designed by Otto Wagner. The picture below shows the quote by Wagner found in a museum in the BAWAG P.S.K. building.
During the bank visit we talked about Austria's regulatory environment and how difficult it makes it for people to start a business, how the regulatory system prohibits p2p (person to person) lending, etc. We also heard about the bank strategy and how through improving efficiency the bank has been able to pay back all of the participatory funding it received after Austria's financial crisis a few years ago. Austria's banking market is highly competitive and there is little to no room to make returns with interest rates on home loans being just over 1.5%. We also were able to hear about Austria's economic history and how the bank uses economic projections to drive bank strategy. The group asked a number of great questions and remained engaged throughout the presentation.
Following the presentation we toured the historic building to learn more about the building architecture and design style of Otto Wagner. The museum portion included pictures of deposit slips from the 1800's, an old teller station area, and much more! The bank concluded our time there by offering lunch to our group. We selected from a meal of fish or chicken, sides, dessert, and a drink.
Once we left the bank, the students were on their own for the rest of the day. Many decided to do some shopping since the shops were closed on Sunday. Others climbed the stairs of St. Stephen's Cathedral, walked around the city center, and some went to the Danube for a nice sunny afternoon! We ended the day with dinner and at a place near the hotel. It was hot so we were all so thirsty we kept asking for tap water (which is quite rare in Europe). They finally brought this huge mug for Hailey. It was a funny ending to a great weekend in Vienna!