PRESS RELEASE 2007-10-09

Die Zweite Sparkasse to cooperate with four new counselling organisations in Vienna

The municipal authority “Magistratsabteilung 40”, providing assistance to Viennese residents in distress, “Verein Dialog”, which offers addiction counselling, “NEUSTART”, an initiative aimed at delinquents, and the “Wiener Hilfswerk” will now provide ongoing services to customers of Die Zweite Sparkasse. In doing so, they will join the present partners of Die Zweite Sparkasse, “Caritas” and the debt counselling services.

Die Zweite Sparkasse to cooperate with four new counselling organisations in Vienna

Up to now, Caritas and the debt counselling services have been the only organisations to select among their clients those without access to banking services and continue to support them once they have become customers of Die Zweite Sparkasse. Both aid organisations have from the very beginning played a decisive part in the development of “the bank for the unbankable”. The pilot phase of this project has now been successfully completed. Since November 2006, the number of people holding bank accounts has risen to about 900. With another branch office in Tyrol just having been opened, the project is continuously expanding to include the federal provinces. In Vienna, the focus now is on increasing the number of counselling organisations involved.

The municipal authority, Magistratsabteilung 40 (Social Affairs, Social and Health Law), of the city of Vienna, as well as the three private aid initiatives Dialog, Neustart and Wiener Hilfswerk now recommend those people among their clients to Die Zweite Sparkasse who desperately need a bank account to be able to return to “normal” life but do not get it anywhere else.

Reinhard Ortner: “The support of counselling organisations is crucial” “Without the competence and advice of the counselling organisations, the project ‘Die Zweite Sparkasse’ would not have been possible,” says Reinhard Ortner, Chairman of the Savings Bank Board of Die Zweite Sparkasse. “In day-to-day business their support is even more crucial,” he emphasises. Because only those who regularly seek assistance from one of the partner aid organisations – which for example assist their clients in dealing with private insolvency procedures – will be able to obtain a bank account with Die Zweite Sparkasse. The quality of this counselling service ultimately determines whether clients will later manage to hold a regular bank account with another bank.

“Thanks to the effort of the counselling organisations, Die Zweite Sparkasse has very quickly gained an excellent reputation, not least with employers,” Ortner points out. The message conveyed to the public is: People holding bank accounts with Die Zweite Sparkasse are well taken care of, receive professional support by the counselling services and are determined to regain control of their financial situation.

MA 40: “Integrative step towards participation in social life” With the MA 40, a municipal office of the city of Vienna which assists people in social distress, a public authority is joining the group of counselling organisations. Clients who make an effort to return to normal social and financial conditions will be Vienna, 9 October 2007 Media Information ERSTE Stiftung DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse Privatstiftung Graben 21, A-1010 Wien Communications T +43(0)50100-15105, F +43(0)50100-12768 supported in achieving their goal: with a credit account with “the bank for the unbankable”. The MA 40 will primarily offer this service to people on welfare who are likely to become gainfully employed again or who are threatened by unemployment. During a counselling interview, social workers assess the life situation of each of their clients and explain the basic conditions necessary for receiving a credit account at Zweite Sparkasse.

“The MA 40 greatly appreciates this resource aimed at people without access to banking services and regards it as particularly valuable as it is a further and integrative step for clients towards participation in social life,” says the head of MA 40, Renate Pommerening-Schober. “The MA 40 staff responsible for these services and I are therefore looking forward to cooperating with Zweite Sparkasse," she adds. Wiener Hilfswerk: “Boosting motivation and stamina”

Wiener Hilfswerk also provides comprehensive counselling services to people in difficult life situations. Managing Director Ursula Weber-Hejtmanek explains the reasons why the organisation seeks cooperation with Die Zweite Sparkasse: "The credit account of Zweite Sparkasse will help clients who receive social support in our neighbourhood centres and within the scope of the supervised housing programme ‘Bürger in Not’ reintegrate themselves into society. It will enable them to ‘normalise’ their financial lives (payment, transfers, etc.), which will not least also boost the motivation and stamina necessary to overcome individual problems." The two private organisations Dialog and NEUSTART cater to people with specific problems.

Dialog: “Facilitating return to employment, reducing marginalisation” Dialog supports drug addicts and their relatives in improving their quality of life. “Cooperation with Die Zweite Sparkasse is an important component of our social work. It is another step towards stabilisation and social reintegration,” says the Managing Director of Verein Dialog, Christine Tschütscher. “We annually attend to about 3000 clients and know that a personal bank account may facilitate the return to employment and somewhat reduces daily marginalisation.”

NEUSTART helps delinquents regain a foothold in society and victims receive compensation and apologies from their offenders. “NEUSTART is an organisation which provides society with support and solutions to overcome conflicts hence protecting people from delinquency and its consequences. In dealing with crime, we do not focus on deterrence but try to work on the underlying causes,” explains spokesman Andreas Zembaty. “In addition to de-escalating and constructively settling conflicts, this in particular includes the support and (re)integration of delinquents into society. Access to banking services is essential for this purpose.”