David Schwimmer vs. Theodor Weimer: Who attracts founders to the stock market?

The UK is making the stock market more attractive for entrepreneurs. Why Germany should follow suit – and what role supervisory boards play in this.

After Brexit, stock market reform is on the horizon in the United Kingdom: a commission of experts recently recommended that the government smooth the way for founders and SMEs to enter the capital market. In the future, they should only have to place 15 percent of their shares on the market – and no longer 25 percent as before.

Thanks to this and other simplifications, David Schwimmer, CEO of the London Stock Exchange, could welcome more entrepreneurs to the stock exchange in the future. After all, experience shows that it is important for them to retain control.

We too are convinced that we urgently need more entrepreneurial spirit on the stock markets. Because the problem with many listed companies is that no one thinks entrepreneurially: board members can live a carefree life on their fixed salaries alone. Investors hold only manageable shares. And many supervisory boards lack entrepreneurs.

Think entrepreneurially – and not in terms of quick money

This harbors the great danger that stock corporations on a broad front pursue short-sighted strategies – with considerable disadvantages for the business location. However, Deutsche Börse CEO Theodor Weimer would also be well advised to examine entrepreneur-friendly reforms for his own business considerations.

We are convinced that the main reason for the delisting trend of recent years is not the annoying stock exchange bureaucracy, but the pressure of short-term thinking and activist shareholders. This makes it more difficult to implement long-term strategies, which are more important than ever in view of the digital transformation.

Deutsche Börse must therefore also become a better place for founders and entrepreneurs. In other words, a place where they can obtain capital without exposing themselves to financial capitalists. The key to this is independent supervisory boards (how they can become a bulwark against activists and a haven for entrepreneurial thinking is in our #FutureGoodGovernance agenda).

With the UK initiative, this goal gains importance not only for Theodor Weimer, but also for the business location. After all, no one can want founders and SMEs to flock across the English Channel.