10 Years Zweite Sparkasse
For 10 years Zweite Sparkasse has helped its clients to financial independence!
10 years ago Zweite Sparkasse opened its first branch to serve people who did not have a possibility to receive an account from any other bank. Since then, Zweite has opened more than 15,000 basic accounts, supporting its clients to regain financial independence.
Harald Leithner was 59, married and father of two children. His life and career went smoothly, until he decided to set up a company with a friend. Harald’s life took an unforeseeable turn, as his partner embezzled money and the company had to declare bankruptcy. This was followed by personal bankruptcy, separation from his wife and a pulmonary infarction. The chaos in his life culminated in a fraud charge which then led to a prison sentence.
He contacted the debt advisory agency, a charitable organisation that helps over indebted people in Vienna. They introduced Mr. Leithner to Zweite Sparkasse, which was for him ‘the single place where he felt accepted’ at that moment. The basic account he received was like a symbol of being back to a normal life. The account, together with dignified advisory, helped Harald to get a job again and to make the necessary bank transfers for rent, phone and electricity.
Comprehensive and integrated advice and services
Since 4 October 2006, Zweite Sparkasse has offered financially excluded people the necessary help to return to their normal life. While in the first 10 years its customers’ request was primarily for a basic account, its focus is now more on comprehensive advice and integrated services. In regular, in-depth advisory meetings the 350 voluntary employees – retired, but mainly active employees from Erste Bank and the savings banks – help clients to sustainably regain control over their finances and payment obligations. Additionally to basic account and advisory on investments and savings, bank partners up with Wiener Städtische, an insurance company, to offer legal advice, home and accident insurance for free as an integrated service. “To enable social reintegration and reduce overindebtness of our clients, we go an extra mile and cooperate with around 30 NGOs across Austria”, explains Evelyn Hayden, chairman of the board of Zweite Sparkasse.
Zweite Sparkasse: Starting point for social banking programme in Erste Group
In the past 10 years, Zweite Sparkasse has opened more than 15,000 accounts for customers in Austria who would not have received an account from any other bank. 3,000 people have successfully regained their financial stability and moved from Zweite Sparkasse to another bank during this time. Currently the bank’s advisors support more than 8,000 clients in 7 branches in Austria.
For its ambitions, Zweite Sparkasse has been recognized with several awards. Also within Erste Group, Zweite’s success in supporting customers to financial independence serves as an inspiration for bringing our social banking in the Group one step further. “Based on the learnings of Zweite, we started to discuss how we could support financially excluded people in other CEE countries. We analyzed the local social banking needs and defined client groups where a special approach can foster development and financial stability. That’s why Zweite Sparkasse can be seen as an initial trigger and great inspiration for the implementation of our Group-wide Social Banking programme focusing besides on low-income private individuals also on supporting social organizations and starting entrepreneurs creating new jobs. Additionally Zweite Sparkasse was the key decision point to join social banking for me personally”, stated Peter Surek, Head of the Social Banking Development team in Erste Group.