Banks to face undercover investment probes

Banks to face undercover investment probes
Photo: DPA
The German government is planning to use undercover investigators to probe the quality of banks’ investment services.

Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner told business daily Handelsblatt on Monday that reforms to German financial supervision needed to be accompanied by measures offering bank customers greater protection from poor investment advice.

“In the future, the government will have undercover investigators and won’t simply check the overall conditions,” Aigner told the paper.

She said the government investigators would not aim to supplant consumer watchdog Stiftung Warentest, but rather would attempt to bolster the credibility of such independent bank rankings.

“There’s the problem that informants cannot be named, which frequently allows the banks to question the results,” Aigner said.

Stiftung Warentest last summer 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 German banks, the consumer watchdog went to 21 different financial institutions for a total of 146 consultations.

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

“Laws can only help when someone ensures that they are being implemented,” said Aigner. “We will expand the ability to make checks for the good of consumers.”

The Local/mry

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