The Volks-Sparkasse becomes an export model

They name Airbnb and Uber as role models. How two regional banks from the Vordertaunus stand up against the competition from Neobanks and thus even draw the attention of the Bank of Japan to themselves.

Close cooperation: the new financial point in Bad Soden-Neuenhain, Hesse.

DThe initiators knew that it was tantamount to a revolution when a savings bank and a Volksbank share a branch. But the fact that even representatives of the Bank of Japan, American and French banks would come to the Taunus to have the concept of “Finanzpunkt” explained to them, surprised them, said the CEOs of Frankfurter Volksbank and Taunus-Sparkasse on Thursday in front of journalists.

They started this extraordinary project a year ago. At 26 locations in the Vordertaunus they now share branches that light up blue on some days and are occupied by Volksbank employees and red on other days, then with Sparkasse advisors. So they see themselves in the trend of the sharing economy and in a row with Airbnb and Uber – only that not apartments or cars but bank branches are shared.

Instead of closing more and more branches, the two cooperation partners want to remain present as widely as possible in this way. “We are convinced that our broad network of locations is a great advantage over our competitors. We definitely want to defend it, ”said Eva Wunsch-Weber, CEO of Frankfurter Volksbank. In addition to online banking and apps, personal advice is also important to many customers.

Four consultations a day

With the financial points, smaller towns have now again received a modern bank branch, which – the two partners are particularly proud of – is completely paperless. After the first year, the two cooperation partners are very satisfied and also rely on surveys of customers and employees. “The customers are enthusiastic,” summed up Sparkasse boss Oliver Klink. In the survey, 85 percent of those questioned said they were happy that their bank could continue to be on site thanks to the concept. The customer frequency despite the corona pandemic and also the level of satisfaction exceeded expectations, said Klink. The average values ​​for the branches are impressive: in addition to withdrawing money, customers come to the branch every day for 30 “service issues” and four consultations and purchase 1.2 products. The branch is far from dead, said Klink. This is a story that the so-called neobanks would advertise, which only offer everything via the Internet.

But of course, this could also reduce costs. In operation, the shared branches cost 40 percent less than before. Since the branches – “like Motel One” – are assembled from standardized modules, each conversion would only cost 250,000 euros. Klink referred to a study by the management consultancy Deloitte, according to which the conversion to a financial point would make sense for every third of the 18,000 branches of savings banks and Volksbanks in Germany. This could save a total of two billion euros in costs per year.

Now also in Tauberfranken

With their concept, the two institutes have now also won over other Volksbanks and savings banks. In the meantime, financial points are also being created in the Upper Palatinate and Tauberfranken according to the same concept. In Darmstadt, Volksbank and Sparkasse also cooperate, but have developed their own design. The two CEOs are in talks with 15 other institutes. But they don’t want to take license fees or the like.