In 1590 brothers Hans und Paul Berenberg started a company in Hamburg which next week will celebrate its 425th anniversary. It is the world’s second oldest bank. The view ahead and respect for tradition are equally important to the company.
The Berenbergs came from Antwerp, where as Protestants they were given the choice of either converting to Catholicism or leaving the country. Hamburg, which during that period was experiencing an enormous economic boom, would be their new home. Due to the lack of a functioning banking system, at that time merchants financed commercial transactions themselves. They granted credit to customers, and advanced funds for shipments from their suppliers.
In the 19th century the Berenbergs were among the founders of major corporations like Hapag, North German Lloyd, and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The family also provided Hamburg senators, councillors and four presidents of the Chamber of Commerce. For his services in bringing Hamburg a duty-free port, in 1889 John Berenberg-Gossler was lifted to the Prussian nobility.
Today Berenberg is one of Europe’s leading private banks, with 1250 staff at 19 offices in Europe, the United States and Asia. The bank’s focus is on service and independent consulting in the areas of private banking, investment banking, asset management und corporate banking.
While many banks have been acquired by large international financial groups, Berenberg is still run by managing partners. As an owner-operated company, the bank feels a close and lasting responsibility to wealthy families, individuals of private means, company owners and foundations. Today Berenberg is also a participant of some weight on the capital markets. With over 80 stock analysts it has the second largest research team of any German bank, and in 2014 accompanied the most initial public offerings and capital increases of any bank in the German-speaking countries. In this anniversary year Berenberg received noteworthy accolades. The Asset Manager Elite report (Handelsblatt) rated it No. 1 again, while the Financial Times Group Global Private Banking Awards called Berenberg the “Best Private Bank in Germany.” The well-known Euromoney Awards called it the “Best Equity House in Germany.”
“In answer to the question of how a company can survive so long, the principles we have always adhered to are important. We put the interests of our clients at the focal point, and act very responsibly with the trust placed in us. Our centuries old history is both a motivation and a duty – yet we do not look to the past, but act in the present and build the future,” as Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, speaker of the managing partners explained in discussing the maxims of Germany’s oldest private bank, which is also one of the most dynamic in Europe.