Düsseldorf Declaration released at 25th German Savings Banks Conference held this week in the German city. The event was held by the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV), a WSBI-ESBG member.
>> See the .pdf version (off-site)
>> See more about the Sparkassentag (off-site)
>> Go to the Sparkassentag YouTube channel
Published: 28 April 2016
Our country is changing: Economic prosperity must be generated time and again in an age of extremely low interest rates and increasing digitisation. The fundamental values in Europe must be strengthened. And immigration and the influx of refugees pose growing challenges in terms of temporary and long-term integration. In times like these, people feel a growing need for security. They expect stability and reliability, in particular from financial partners. We accept this challenge. For more than 200 years, savings banks and their municipal owners—in cooperation with Landesbanken and their associated partners within the Savings Banks Finance Group—have successfully coped with fundamental changes in society. This ability is still needed, perhaps today more than ever before. We want to make it easy for people to improve the way they manage their own lives. We want to understand our customers better than our competitors do. We want to provide our customers with more comprehensive security, and we want to work with them to build a positive future. To this end, we will preserve the values that have made us strong in the past:
However, we are constantly changing in response to new challenges.
We are at home wherever our customers live and work. We talk and think like our customers. The people who work for us are people in the midst of society. For us and for our employees, social responsibility is part of our daily practice.
We open up paths to participation in society and active citizenship. For this reason, we enable all private individuals, upon request, to open a basic account, regardless of their background or creditworthiness. We are financial partners of choice for people in all parts of society.
We provide easy access to products and services. Our customer relationship managers are personally known to customers and are easy to reach. We will continue to be accessible within a reasonable distance in all parts of Germany.
We want to be understood. This applies in particular to the products and services we offer. We know that we can improve in this respect by using clearer language.
We want statutory rules that do not adversely affect the proximity to our customers. We are opposed to overregulation and unnecessary bureaucracy. This applies in particular to rules on advisory services for securities and mandatory reporting. We want all customer groups to continue to have access to high-quality advice without the hurdle of an advisory fee.
We stand for a clear-cut and transparent business policy. We accept responsibility for mistakes and rectify them. Since we are savings banks, we are under the direct supervision of locally elected or appointed representatives of political, social and economic stakeholders. This means that we deliver on transparency.
We support civic initiatives. We spend approx. € 500 million per year for local societal, charitable and cultural causes. We always try to find ways of sponsoring such causes reliably over a number of years, in particular via the savings banks foundations, of which there are now more than 750.
We stand for a culture of saving and making provisions for the future. We safeguard the assets built up by our customers long-term and help them to judiciously increase their assets. In close cooperation with our partners within the Savings Banks Finance Group, we offer a broad range of investment opportunities, especially at times of extremely low interest rates. In the interest of our customers, we are particularly committed to accumulating savings through investments in securities. We draw particular attention to the risks associated with the current monetary policy, which leads to incorrect pricing of risks. In addition, this policy distorts money and capital markets, and it restricts the room for manoeuvre of foundations. It leads to underfunding of pension commitments in companies, and it reduces the willingness to save, in particular among younger people.
We protect savers. We have properly implemented the European deposit guarantee standards introduced in 2015. We expect that effective guarantee schemes will be built up on these European standards in all the Member States of the European Union, on the basis of individual responsibility.We are against undermining the self-responsibility for such schemes by introducing a centralised European deposit guarantee scheme. Such communtarisation of risks would lead to a lack of responsibility, and consequently, to less stability in all parts of the European Union.
Our business practices are sound. Due to our prudent business policy, we have been able to strengthen our equity base and our contingency reserves in the past few years. This provides us with the financial basis to compete successfully on our own merits in the coming years, which will probably be difficult years economically. To prevent adverse developments, we have considerably upgraded the reporting, early-warning and intervention capacities in our protection system.
We want regulation that does not pose a risk to stability. There is a risk that the complexity, the inconsistencies and the unclear objectives of current regulation will overtax the supervisory authorities and the credit institutions in practice. We therefore believe that there is an urgent need for regulators to place a stronger focus on the business models of small and medium-sized credit institutions.
We meet the highest standards of data security technology, data protection and data ownership of private individuals. We use the data in our possession to make our customers’ lives easier, not to intrude on their privacy.
Our business policy is focused on our customers’ needs. We measure our customers’ satisfaction and use this criterion as a basis for decisions on business policy.
We will expand our personal advisory services and will increasingly provide online payment transactions and other online services. It is up to our customers to decide what channel they want to use to access our products and services. They can choose between going to a branch or using the online or mobile access to our services. For this reason, we will considerably increase our range of online services and focus more on providing high-quality advice in the branches.
We provide secure payment transactions in the web and in branches. Our customers decide how they would like to pay.We will not restrict their ability to use cash against their will.
We support German enterprises in the globalised economy. For this purpose, savings banks draw on the international expertise of their partners within the Savings Banks Finance Group, in particular the expertise of the Landesbanken and of Deutsche Leasing. And they give access to the support of the S-CountryDesk.
We make responsible contributions to strengthening local economies and to sustainable regional development. We are the most important lenders for local economies and, as such, strengthen regional economic cycles. And we support start-up businesses in all parts of Germany. With over two billion euros in income tax payments per year, savings banks alone are one of the biggest taxpayers in Germany. They generate wages and non-wage labour costs for more than 230,000 employees.
We are a network of independent financial institutions which share common values. We jointly leverage the synergies of a large financial network, while at the same time respecting the decision-making authority of the executive boards of independent enterprises. Individual savings banks exercise their decision-making authority in such a way that the customers’ trust in the common brand will not be adversely affected.
We provide a comprehensive range of financial services. Regardless of its size, each savings bank in Germany will continue to be able to independently provide all the financial services required because each bank is part of a very efficient banking network.
We will preserve and strengthen our capital base. Savings banks generate capital on through their own efforts and, as a matter of principle, do not expect any capital injections from their municipal owners. In this context, we are guided by future capital requirements and conceivable risk exposures.
We strengthen the German banking market. Savings banks and Landesbanken stand for the diversity of business models and for market proximity through decentralised structures. In an internationally networked economy, we facilitate a sensible granular diversification of risks.