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Hamburg bank made customer psych profiles

The Local · 4 Nov 2010, 17:21

Published: 04 Nov 2010 17:21 GMT+01:00

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Public broadcaster NDR reported that Haspa, the regional branch of Sparkasse, used conversations between customers and bank advisors to create "neuro-marketing" to sell them tailored financial products.

The internal documents show 1.4 million Hamburger Sparkasse customers divided into character types, such as a “conservationist,” a "hedonist," and an “epicure” who “requires a more pleasant atmosphere” but “can be lightly pressured” by financial salespeople.

Others, such as the “adventurer” are “motivated by risk, conquest and struggle.” Sparkasse employees were then instructed that “arguments should be strongly emotional, to trigger their sense of impulsive decision making.”

Edda Castellό of Hamburg's consumer advocate centre told NDR the profiling was completely unacceptable.

“I saw the document, and I thought it was, frankly, disgusting,” she said.

“Hamburger Sparkasse are doing the opposite of helping their customers make responsible choices, by getting into their heads to manipulate them into make choices that are not really in their interest.”

One customer who spoke to NDR claimed that she had been labelled as a “hedonist” in her customer files despite only having spoken with a Haspa advisor twice in 33 years.

Shortly after the profiling was made public, the bank said it would discontinue the practice even though it has been it the best interest of its customers.

Story continues below…

"Haspa used (it) in order to better understand the needs of customers," the bank said in a statement.

The Local/rm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:25 November 4, 2010 by grazhdanin
This is certainly the most disgusting story I've heard in my life.
18:34 November 4, 2010 by theglocal
Is this even a story? Segmenting your customer base has been standard operating procedure for decades in all kinds of companies (including banks and insurers).
18:53 November 4, 2010 by Landmine
Hey... Don't forget to pixelate their faces and where they live.....
21:01 November 4, 2010 by anne k
"Disziplinierter" doesn't mean "disciplinarian" (someone who is strict and punishes others), it means that you yourself are self-disciplined.
21:15 November 4, 2010 by So36
Maybe Ms Smartypants needs a dictionary:

dis·ci·pli·nar·i·an (ds-pl-nâr-n)


One that enforces or believes in strict discipline.
21:43 November 4, 2010 by catjones
You are giving these bankers way too much credit (pun intended) to think that some uber-teller can decipher a customer's mentality and arrive at a useful, consistent and actionable conclusion. If that were the case, why not send people with psychological problems to their local bank for a diagnosis?

I'll give the banks my freebie...you're nuts.
11:17 November 5, 2010 by anne k
"One that enforces or believes in strict discipline. "

The main meaning of "disciplinarian" is "A person who maintains or advocates (strict) discipline in an army, school, etc. " (Shorter OED) - that is not the same as being self-disciplined, i.e. spending your money carefully instead of splashing out all the time, which is what is meant here. Sorry to be a nitpicker, but why on earth would the Sparkasse write down that their customers liked being strict?
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