Mike Baur first came into the public light when he was a banker for the Swiss bank Clariden Leu in 2008. He advised some of the most prominent figures in Switzerland on financial matters through his position at the private bank. However, because of changes in the way Swiss banks operate, Baur led the charge in turning from banking as a career to a starting point for opening his own financial-services business
The office building where Baur worked was very impressive. It was a venerable building that could only be found in the elegant Bahnhofstrasse of Zurich, the main street of the downtown area. Baur described the building as a jewel, but the good times he spent there ended soon after the financial crisis broke out, and the business economy became very uneasy.
During these difficult years, the parent company of Clariden Leu decided to close the doors of the 250-year-old institution. Clariden Leu became part of its parent company, Credit Suisse Group AG, and the beautiful office building where Baur once worked had been sold.
Baur left Clariden Leu in 2014 to pursue other projects, most notably, technology start-ups. While Clariden Leu was nearing the end, Baur had already devoted himself to a greater purpose.
Baur’s career in the banking sector started at the age of 16 when he began an apprenticeship at UBS Group AG. In a meeting with the company’s personnel manager, he received a chart showing how his entire career would look until his retirement. Baur followed this plan and received one promotion after another until he became part of a group that was looking for innovative ways to attract very wealthy investors. His strategies worked, and UBS began to expand at a record-breaking pace. This continued until the economy was finally hit by the Great Recession.
After the government had to save UBS in 2008, the bank began to shrink. Credit Suisse also had to reduce its expansion efforts and focus on keeping its banks in business. It was at this time that Baur left UBS to work for Clariden Leu.
Baur stayed with Clariden Leu for six years. He was ready to pursue his own entrepreneurial ideas and invest his impressive talent in start-up companies. This decision meant that he had to leave a respectable salary on the table, but he later learned that the people who applied to his Accelerator program were also former bank buyers. For Baur, the reason was very clear: Because of the intensified regulations that bankers face in the current financial climate, banking is now a less attractive career choice than it was in the past.
At present, banking is sinking into a quagmire of legal regulations, and a great many legal scandals have come to light. In addition, interest rates have fallen sharply, and banks no longer benefit from the enormous profits they had earned in the past. The financial sector was heavily responsible for the comfortable position Switzerland holds in the world, but the prevailing climate led them to look at their situation in a new light. President Johann Schneider-Ammann recently acknowledged that it was time for Switzerland to be less risk averse and to develop a more entrepreneurial spirit.
At present, however, it does not appear that banking is moving in this direction as the industry contributed less than 5 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Switzerland in 2015. Employment growth in the industry also fell below the level of employment growth in the construction and real estate sectors.
Mike Baur seized the opportunity and took advantage of the talent bank employees that had lost their jobs in bankruptcies. He developed a method to help these people realize their career opportunities outside the banking sector.
It seems that Baur and his customers have a great deal in common. He was part of a traditional industry but did not always feel that his ideas were traditional. It was not difficult for him to leave his job at UBS because he could not promote his creative entrepreneurial side there.
The company that Baur founded is known as the Swiss Startup Factory. He called his company a factory because its purpose is to help people build successful businesses out of their ideas. He sees his job as a manufacturer who creates new companies for the market.
The other reason why manufacturing is a good word for Baur’s company is his conviction that the young people who work with him have to work hard. In his years as a banker, he has met many well-to-do people, and he believes that they tend not to work hard enough to succeed.
There are other start-up centers in this sector, but Baur insists that his company is different. The main difference is that he and the other founders of the Swiss Startup Factory have invested their own money into the firm, so they need it to be successful. His company is also independent, and that makes a huge difference because they are not limited by the agenda of a single person. Everyone is important.
Baur has stated what he considers the strengths and weaknesses of his company. The strength of the Swiss Startup Factory is the fact that it is highly innovative. The weakness is that they have difficulty in implementing their strategies. He also believes that they must work to present opportunities to investors in a manner that is more professional, which will help investors work more enthusiastically with their company.
The bottom line is that Mike Baur is passionate about his company and is working hard to achieve his goals. He believes that these are the two factors that lead to success in every industry. Of course, it does not hurt that he loves what he does.
Mike Baur believes that you can teach people what an entrepreneur is, but that you cannot teach them the mentality you need as an entrepreneur. According to Baur, one is either born with the entrepreneurial spirit or is not.
In the future, Baur would like his company to give something back to Switzerland. He and his partners are already making their contributions, but he still sees improvement potential in this area and will continue to have a positive influence on the ecosystem of the Swiss business world.