“Volks-Sparkasse”: Joint branches in response to savings pressure

Details in press conference On Friday, Germany’s second-largest Volksbank confirmed corresponding reports by the magazine “Spiegel” and the “Welt am Sonntag”. Details will be announced by the two banks in a joint press conference next Tuesday (3.9.).

The cooperation is a response to the pressure to save money and could therefore set a precedent nationwide. Because the entire industry strives to create a balancing act between digital offers and presence in the area.

Many customers now do their banking business almost exclusively on their home computer or via an app on their smartphone. The number of branches has been shrinking for years because the dense network costs the institutions a lot of money – and this at a time when financial institutions are already struggling to earn money because of the low-interest rates and at the same time have to spend a lot of money on regulation and new digital services.

50 locations affected According to reports, Frankfurter Volksbank and Taunus Sparkasse will consolidate their presence at 50 locations. The joint branches will be open on four weekdays: Sparkassen customers will be served on two days, Volksbank customers on the other two days.

Customers will be able to see which institution is currently represented by means of different lighting – sometimes red for the Sparkasse, sometimes blue for the Volksbank. Basic services such as cash withdrawals are to be offered to all customers at all times via ATMs.

The two institutes are jointly investing up to five million euros in the redesign of the branches – and in return are saving annual costs in the single-digit millions.

Last year, branch deaths and merger pressure in the German banking market continued under the pressure of the interest rate slump and digitization. According to Bundesbank figures, the number of financial institutions decreased by 40 to 1,783 compared to the previous year. The number of branch offices shrank across the entire German market by 2,239 to 27,887. In 2007, the figure was still around 40,000.

Eva Wunsch-Weber, CEO of Frankfurter Volksbank, had already shown herself open to cooperation when presenting her company’s balance sheet. The cooperative bank also relied on cooperation with savings banks “in order to be accessible to our customers at less frequented locations”, explained Wunsch-Weber in mid-February.

Frankfurter Volksbank has around 1,600 employees and serves more than 600,000 private customers. With a balance sheet total of around EUR 12.1 billion, the bank is Germany’s second-largest Volksbank after Berliner Volksbank.

According to an overview by the German Savings Banks and Giro Association (DSGV), Taunus Sparkasse, with a balance sheet total of more than 5.5 billion euros, is ranked 49th among the last 385 savings banks in Germany. The institute employs a good 800 staff.

Branch network also under scrutiny at other banks Not only Volksbanks and savings banks but also large private banks such as Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are constantly scrutinizing the branch network. According to a report by “Wirtschaftswoche”, Deutsche Bank is considering closing a larger number of branches of Deutsche Bank and Postbank as part of its announced radical restructuring of the Group. We are talking about 200 branches.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said on Friday on request that the bank was currently reviewing a number of additional measures “to achieve the goals set for the retail bank by 2022 more quickly and to set new impulses for its customers”. Deutsche Bank had reduced the number of its own branches by 188 in recent years to 535, while Postbank currently operates 850 of its own branches.

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