Innovation 25 years after the “Iron Curtain”

May 27, 2014

Driving two hours southwards from Vienna the landscape is rich and flat. The road signs suggest we are heading towards Hungary, however our destination is just short of the Austro-Hungarian border. It was at this border crossing, 25 years ago this week, that the “Iron Curtain” began to fall. Nobody challenged the young man who dared to cut the barbed wire that day, or the small trickle of Trabants that soon flowed westwards. Within days news had spread, and from my University room in Freiburg, Germany I watched as Germans, from east and west,  hacked away at the Berlin Wall, as it crumbled into history.

Today Raiffeisen Bank has brought me back to look forwards to the next 25 years. How will markets continue to change? What will customers want? What is the future of banking? And do business leaders make it happen? Raiffeisen is an impressive bank, but rethinking the rules is not easy. Sectors like banking are full of regulation which can intimidate new ideas. And to be honest, leaders got to where they are by playing the old game, so have limited interest in changing it. But we need to look beyond that. Like the man who cut the barbed wire.

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