PRESS RELEASE 2013-06-18

Zweite Sparkasse: “And suddenly, a thousand customers were gone!”

With over 400 volunteers, Zweite Sparkasse provides support to approximately 8,000 customers throughout Austria. The sole aim of Zweite Sparkasse advisors is to assist these customers in coping with their financial crisis. “We are probably the only bank that is happy to lose customers”, explains Evelyn Hayden, CEO of Zweite Sparkasse, on the occasion of the thousandth customer to close a free credit account at this Sparkasse and to receive a bank account at a different bank.

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Competent and comprehensive advice is particularly important in emergency situations: “We consider it our responsibility to make a contribution to common welfare by guiding customers out of their financial vicious cycle. Because debts are expensive, not only due to interest rates. For example, someone who cannot make transfers from an account will often be required to pay a fee for the use of payment forms. For us, success means to support customers until they can switch to a “conventional” bank again after approx. three years, Hayden adds.

Zweite Sparkasse is considered a branch pioneer. The results of a current survey revealed that almost one in five people in Austria is familiar with Zweite Sparkasse. On 25 June, Zweite Sparkasse will be awarded the European Commission’s European CSR Award 2013 in the category “Best Partnership”. Other awards recently received are: Dubai International Award 2012, Trigos 2013 (Category Best Partnership).

Job loss, illness or divorce often mark the beginning of financial distress. The scope of customers of Zweite Sparkasse, ranging from people on welfare to entrepreneurs, demonstrates that no one is immune. An estimated 150,000 people in Austria currently do not have a bank account, although they need one.

All in all, more than 10,000 accounts have been opened since Zweite Sparkasse was founded in 2006.

Wide recognition and great level of awareness – almost one in five people in Austria know Zweite Sparkasse
Over time, the activities of Zweite Sparkasse have won broader and broader recognition: Recently, Zweite Sparkasse was accepted into the circle of “Best Practices” in the context of the “Dubai International Award 2012”. The UN Programme for human settlements, UN-HABITAT, and the municipal government of DUBAI have recognised exemplary programmes for the improvement of the living environment since 1995.

On 3 June, Zweite Sparkasse and Schuldnerberatung Wien were awarded the Trigos 2013 award in the category “Best Partnership Large Corporations” for their corporate social responsibility, on behalf of the many involved counselling organisations.

But Zweite Sparkasse is also well-known in the Austrian population: In a representative survey in April 2013 (Integral Markt- und Meinungsforschung), 18 percent of the respondents said they knew Zweite Sparkasse.

EU: European Commission Prize for Zweite Sparkasse and political debate
In addition, Zweite Sparkasse will receive a distinction on the European level on 25 June in Brussels, where the European Commission’s European CSR Award 2013 in the category “Best Partnership” will be presented. How people who have no access to financial services can be helped is also the topic of a recently launched legislative initiative of the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, who aims to introduce a general “right to a bank account” in the EU Member States. “We are pleased to see that, in the meantime, having no bank account has been taken notice of as an issue on the European level”, says Evelyn Hayden, commenting this proposal, “but we are convinced that people in difficult situations need more than just a bank account.” Only comprehensive advisory activities offered by volunteers and cooperation with counselling organisations will allow the customers of Zweite Sparkasse to stabilise their financial situation sustainably and return to a normal banking relationship. “We help people to help themselves, so that everybody who needs an account can actually open one at a bank of their choice.”

More information about Zweite Sparkasse is available at