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Consumer watchdog pans banks for investment advice

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Consumer watchdog pans banks for investment advice
Photo: DPA
15:20 CEST+02:00
Germany's top consumer organisation Stiftung Warentest on Tuesday panned the country's banks for the quality of investment advice they offered customers.

Just months after new regulations were put into place to improve the information made available by banks, the government-funded but independent foundation went to 21 different financial institutions for a total of 146 consultations.

The result: six banks received “deficient” marks, while 12 were considered “adequate,” and three were “satisfactory.” Not a single institution was given the top “good” grade.

Sparkasse Hannover, Hamburger Sparkasse and Kreissparkasse Köln received the survey's best ratings of “satisfactory.”

The “deficient” bank consultations came from the Hypovereinsbank, Postbank, BW Bank, Targobank, Nassauische Sparkasse and the Volksbank Mittelhessen.

Since the beginning of the year, banks have been required to use a protocol for customer consultations involving stocks and securities. But only about half of the customers who participated in the test received the protocol, according to the results presented in Berlin.

Many customers were not asked all of the protocol questions, nor did they receive ample information about the costs and features of financial products. Banks also often recommended portfolios that were considered too risky.

Overall bank ratings were worse than a comparable study from the summer of 2009, the organisation said. In that study only two banks garnered a “deficient” grade.

This year the German banks did slightly better when it came to advising customers on their overall financial situation and savings goals, but many consultations were still lacking.

Germany's central credit committee (ZKA) issued a statement that said there was “clearly still considerable room for improvement” at banks when it comes to financial advice.

Complete results of the test will be published in this month's Stiftung Warentest magazine.

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