Ladies and Gentlemen,
It seems as though the world around us is becoming more unpredictable every day: we are confronted with market fluctuations, global economic uncertainties, terror threats and floods of refugees. When it comes to the European Union, we ask ourselves – what has become of the great idea? And then there are many other major questions we have to tackle: digitalisation, industry 4.0, artificial intelligence.
In this environment, security plays an increasingly important role for many people. Above all, customers therefore have five clearly-defined expectations vis-à-vis their financial services providers: stability, creation and protection of wealth, reliability, a diligent handling of their money and data and, last but not least, future-proof technology.
Georg Fahrenschon, President of the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV)
The Savings Banks are held in very high regard in these areas. There is a good reason why by far the most customers place their trust in our institutions. We have worked hard to earn this trust – by sticking to our values: we want each individual to be able to make their life a little better by means of our advisory services and solutions. Every customer should be able to meet their goals – however diverse they may be. The very heart of the Savings Banks’ obligation is to offer people in Germany financial life perspectives – with the help of good advisory services and high-quality financial products.
In addition, we work hard to ensure that no social group is left behind. For us, it is important that everyone should have the chance to lead a financially self-determined life; that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in all regions of the country should continue to find fair conditions; and that savers (and their personal assets) should be treated with appreciation – in both senses of the word. The Savings Banks are the protective shield, not only for savers and SMEs, but also for people with few personal assets and a low income.
The capital earned by the Savings Banks in a highly competitive environment stays in the region and benefits everyone. The Savings Banks’ profits enable them to include sections of the population that are of no interest to other banks. The existence of 1.7 million Citizen Accounts – with more than 250,000 of them for refugees – is just one example. The Savings Banks perform their public obligations through economic resources – that makes us unique. It is the reason for the close relationship that the Savings Banks have with the municipalities and the local people. And it is the reason why directly elected local representatives make up part of our Boards.
The “Report to Society 2015” gives you an insight into our values. The stories presented here are taken from the lives of some of our approximatly 50 million customers. We chose the topics in accordance with the sustainability criteria we identified, together with the German Council for Sustainable Development.