The Silence of the Banks

When it simply states that German savers’ savings are fully guaranteed at lunchtime on a Sunday, no one questions the good intentions of the German Government. However, this “reassuring” message for small-deposit savers came out of the blue yesterday – as nobody in Germany had seriously thought they could lose all of their savings. If the situation really was that bad, their bank would have contacted them. But they haven’t been in touch.

It remains unclear whether the German Government’s assurance will defuse the situation or heighten it. One thing is clear: It shows the dire straits our financial system really is in. The US property crisis has been on the boil for almost a year. Throughout this entire time, the banks have remained politely silent on the matter. No image campaigns, no reassuring calls from bank managers to their customers, no information events on the causes and effects of the financial crisis, no special editions of customer magazines or personal letters from Chairpersons of the Board.

The current situation is not even worth an e-mail newsletter to the institutes, while they use every method and medium available to sell new products. However, in times of crisis, bankers stick their heads in the sand. Even savings banks and co-operative banks, which could even come out on top after the turbulence, haven’t made their presence felt. Is everyone afraid to come out of their shells? Do they have other skeletons in their closet? Or do at least the public banks really have nothing to worry about, and therefore no reason to reach out to their customers? That leaves room for a lot of conjecture, but this is not what you could call active communication in a crisis. Deutsche Bank’s slogan used to be “Trust is the beginning of everything.” However, silence doesn’t build trust, only uncertainty. In these circumstances, that is grossly negligent. So it was high time for someone to finally speak to bank customers – even if it was only the German Chancellor and Minister of Finance.- auch wenn es nur die Bundeskanzlerin und der Finanzminister waren.

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