AVAL Financial - Coffee with Notebook

The professional career of Markus Berendes - Part 1

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7 Minutes

During this interview with Markus Berendes you will get a very personal insight into his youth phase up to his first big decision.

A child of the 70s

Interviewer: Hello Mr. Markus Berendes. Thank you very much for your invitation. I am very excited to learn more about your professional career. In order to create a more pleasant situation, I am now switching from the formal term of address to the personal one. I want to know a little bit more about your story. The first question I have for you is what is your story? How did you become the man you are today?

Markus Berendes: I think it’s a complex story. Well, I’m a child of the 60s and 70s, which means that I just missed this flower power time. I would have liked to experience this time more consciously. The 70s were a rather difficult phase due to the oil price shock.

This situation also had an effect on my parents. Back then I was a teenager and suddenly things like survival, getting along and a peaceful living within the family got very important.

It was important that the children had clothes to wear and something to eat. I think that was also reflected in the society back then. On the one hand, we had this left-wing movement and on the other hand we had movements like Baader Meinhof and also countermovements that opposed it, quite massively.

That shaped me. There was an encrusted, older generation that was now challenged by the later Chancellor Schröder. Schröder stood at the fence and rattled it in front of the Federal Chancellery. This conflict between extreme left-winged groupings and very conservative right groupings was palpable at this time. Today this conflict is completely gone by and you can no longer perceive it in this form. That shaped me, of course.

Interviewer: Where exactly did you grow up, Markus?

Markus Berendes: In Munich. From the age of ten my family and I lived in Munich. Before Munich we lived in Baden-Württemberg. I was born in Wiesbaden. The time which I can remember the most was basically the one in Munich.

Not a fan of the school

Interviewer: Did you go school in Munich as well? How did you fare in your school days, what can you still remember?

Markus Berendes: Yes, I went to school in Munich. How was I doing? If I had to summarize it in one sentence it would be the following: School was necessary, but not really what I enjoyed. I enjoyed doing sports, more than learning Latin.

Interviewer: OK. So you were more the sporty kind of person?

Markus Berendes: Yes definitely! I think it turned out later that I’m more of a pragmatist. After school I did an apprenticeship at the bank. That’s when I started doing the job that I still do today. Sport was the best part of my youth.

Interviewer: What was your favorite sport?

Markus Berendes: I loved skiing and I still enjoy it today. I also love sailing. We got a chance from our parents. They made is possible that we could sail on the Forggensee in the Allgäu and we were able to take sailing courses. Later we also had a sailing boat, a 470, a dinghy. Sailing has shaped me a lot. It didn’t let me go either. I still do it actively.

Markus Berendes and the call of the big world

Interviewer: You said earlier that you did an apprenticeship at the bank. Did you stay at the bank after you have finished the apprenticeship?

After the apprenticeship I did my military service by mistake. I was in the armed forces and asked myself why am I actually here? For me personally, that time was wasted time. But it was still necessary in the past. Fifteen months of basic military service, or you could refuse it. Somehow I didn’t realize the refusal at all. Suddenly I was with the armed forces and had to complete my military service.

After serving in the armed forces, I worked again at the bank for almost a year. At this time I did reserve activities, also branch manager representation and things like that. Afterwards I went to Chicago for half a year. There we had the opportunity to act on a secondary exchange.

Through that way I was able to get to know America better. Of course, that also shaped me. It was the first time for me when I was really far away from family. Alone. At a young age of 20 years.

That was something special for me. To get along on my own without having mom or dad to support me.

Interviewer: Sure, good to imagine. Was it like being thrown into cold water?

Markus Berendes: Yeah, not quite. If I had gone to school in Chicago it might have been cold water. So it was just lukewarm water.

Interviewer: And how long have you been in Chicago?

Markus Berendes: For half a year.

Salesperson or Consultant?

Interviewer: After Chicago you came back to Germany, right? What happened then?

Yes. I had thought about going back to the bank. I had an experience at the bank that shaped me. At that time, there were so-called bonus savings contracts.

People had the possibility to sign a savings contract for seven years. With this contract they get a two percent bonus from the state every year. In addition, good interest rates, not zero interest. People received six or seven percent interest on the amount saved. And the state’s bonus came on top of that.

That should encourage people to save money in the 1970s, early 1980s. Soon it was abolished because the state had no money to pay the bonus. The two percent have been deleted. On the day on which the bonus was canceled, the bank came up with their new slogan: „We’ll keep paying your bonus!“

That doesn’t mean that they pay two percent a year for seven years. Instead, they pay two percent once at the end of the operational time.

The bank sold it as advertising. WE KEEP PAYING! This advertisement was so cleverly placed that everyone who came in the bank believed that they would receive the same interest rates like before. That shocked me completely in my youthful naivete.

I thought that was totally indecent. I thought that you couldn’t deal with customers like that. I was in conflict with myself because I was one of the persons, who worked at a bank counter. I couldn’t tell people not to believe that. It was my job to say that this is how people should invest their money now. Even though if it was a deliberate deception.

And of course we had a stipulation. I remember we had to sell 400 contracts within two months. The branch manager also divided these contracts up between the apprentice, and this included myself as well. Everyone was given a number of contracts which have to get sold. At this time I noticed that banking is not consulting, it is selling. That fact made me wonder where it could be different. That’s how I came to the Bonnfinanz company. There was the first interface with Berthold Schadek as well.

The professional career of Markus Berendes part 2!

Coming Soon. Markus Berendes and his time working for the Bonnfinanz AG. Part two of the Interview!