How Banks Manipulate Your Customers: The Tricks of Financial Sellers


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Since September, people in Wall Street have been protesting against the machinations of banks in Germany since last weekend. An overview of the events I published yesterday. Here I describe from my own experience the lousy tricks persuasion of banks.


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Here writes for you: Simone Janson is a publisher, German Top20 blogger and HR communication consultant. Profile

Banks delete video clips

Overview

The WISO documentary "The Bank is Always Winning" deals with the tricks that banks have used to bring unsuspecting people, especially pensioners, to their savings and wealth. The upcoming video on Youtube, however, was shortened by a few minutes, because the ZDF is in a lawsuit with the Stadtsparkasse Bremen.

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There is a background (and a link to the missing minutes) at Netzpolitik.org. But how can it happen that banks bring people by tens of thousands of euros by pushing them into an uncertain investment?

Cleverly manipulated

Overview

The answer is: clever sales tactics and manipulation. How a conversation is going on and how the banks react to complaints, I would like to demonstrate in the following example by example.

For in March 2008, half a year before the Lehman crisis, I was forced into a doubtful investment in a consultation. Although it is only a small part of my money and also my losses will hopefully be limited.

A surefire business?

Overview

A fact remains, however, that the investment turned out to be anything but the promised good business. A smooth lie, then! And: the trained bank adviser used targeted manipulation mechanisms that made me sign the conversation protocol as well as the contract.

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But in turn: In March 2009, I received a letter from Citibank, now Targo Bank, asking me to give me a 50 Euro credit if I went for a consultation. That sounded good: 50 Euro - and I wanted to take care of my investments in times of high interest rates anyway.

Only a few crosses ...

Overview

Supposedly, one is particularly susceptible to manipulation, if one believes to be immune to it. That's how it happened to me. I had been dealing with Postbank's somewhat dubious investment products shortly before, and I thought I was ready.

It started with the risk profile, which the consultant created for me in the conversation and according to which I am indeed safety-conscious, but lean towards a few experiments. As a naive consumer one is inclined to underestimate the importance of a few crosses - you know that, yes, if any surveys are made.

The bank secures itself!

Overview

The results are also contradictory: It is true, for example, pension funds and non-pension funds are crossed (probably because I had already heard), but also at the same time that I had made corresponding transactions had never.

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Nevertheless, the Bank does not refrain from invoking any later complaints that my investment was the corresponding profile.

Sales tactics

Overview

The consultant was not a somewhat blatant salesman, but clearly trained in building a personal relationship: He looked nice, like someone you like to chat with and trust. And in the first place honey was smeared on my lips during the entire consultation:

And that is that I am, yes, a little risk and the corresponding financial investments presumably to belong to the club successful Geldanleger. Who does not like something like that? In the same way, the FDP yes at the last Bundestagswahl their promoters lured.

Product Information schön geredet

Overview

The product that was sold to me is called Alpha Express Bond. And the friendly banker explained it to me: You invest an amount. On the deadline is looked at whether the DivDAX, that is a stock index, the 15 Company the DAX with the highest dividend yield, is higher than the DAX (which is the stock index with the 30 largest and top-selling companies).

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The whole thing runs maximum 5 years. For every year there are 11% interest. So if the DivDAX is above the DAX after one year on the first cut-off date, 11% interest will be paid out. If the DivDAX is below, it will run for another year and interest rates will increase by 11%. After five years you could possibly get 55%.

Details concealed

Overview

But, the friendly bank adviser said, it was completely unlikely that 15's best companies were performing worse than the 5 for years. Sounds synonymous somehow logical. What the bank adviser neatly concealed: It is only a castrated DivDAX without dividends (more precisely is in this FAZ article described), the plant is not so good.

And: The whole plant was completely risk-free, since one would get the full deposit so, if after 5 years would nothing with the dream interest. There was no mention of the expenditure charges and the loss of interest (ie real losses).

Banks do not go bankrupt!

Overview

And also that the system is not secured in the deposit insurance fund of the Federal Republic of Germany, was kleingededet: Half a year before the Lehmann bankruptcy it said joval: "It is quite unlikely that one of the world's largest banks goes bankrupt."

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When I started to complain, first in a personal conversation, then in writing and by phone, the bank kept on repeating the same excuse: I had been sufficiently informed about the risks, which can be taken from the advisory protocol.

What does the bank say about complaints?

Overview

Representative I quote at this point from the eMailthat Peter Herkenhoff, Press Officer of TARGOBANK AG and Co. KGaA sent to me on 24.11.2011: Meanwhile, my colleagues have sent me the documents. As a result, we identified you as a "balanced" investor in 2008 during the March meeting because of your risk profile and experience [...] so that the maximum risk ratio in your case would have been 55%. In fact, your interest in 0 was higher because you have purchased a capital protection product that will be redeemed at maturity at face value minus the entry charge. This is not the case as already stated. I also understand from the documents that our adviser has informed you of the risks and the operation of the Alpha Express bond; In case you should not have the documents at hand, I have attached the original product flyer again. In it we explain in detail on page 6 (below) the differences between the DivDAX price index and the Dax performance index. And in the Risk Notice on page 8, we explicitly point out that there is no guarantee that the DivDAX will perform better against the DAX during the term of the bond. Whereupon the conversation was not expressly referred to, the bank staff being fully aware that I had not read the passage in question! This risk is offset by very attractive return opportunities. In fact, the term of this bond is almost two years, and you and all other investors have the opportunity to earn a return of 2.4.2012 percent and 2.4.2013 percent on two additional key dates (44 and 55). If the bond is not repaid prematurely, even if the DivDAX Index lost to the DAX by as much as 4 percent, you can still earn 55 percent of earnings at maturity. Incidentally, in the worst case, you will receive back the paid-in capital (less the initial charge) as desired. And minus a corresponding inflation equalization!

What does BAFIN say?

Overview

In 2009, I had already applied to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, BAFIN) with my complaint. Nils Philipp wrote to me at the 28.04.2009 that he gave me the right, that in my risk profile no knowledge of complex products are documented.

However, without prejudice to the fact that in the product flyer the risk of the investment is being drawn up in detail and that he can not understand whether the bank consultant has informed me about the facts or not.

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The customer has the burden of proof

Overview

In other words, the institution that is supposed to oversee the banks can only do something for the customer if the latter can prove completely that he has been pulled across the table. Or in other words, the bank always wins!

For who is already recording consultations?

Ombudsman or civil court

Overview

At the end of his letter, Mr Philipp advised me to raise an ombudsman, who, however, would not settle if the agreement of witnesses became necessary, for example because the statement is against the testimony.

Another possibility is a civil court: since legal representation is difficult because the whole product is subject to English law. The counselor had also failed to do so.

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