Introduction by the Board of Managing Directors
2014 was a good year for the Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken Cooperative Financial Network. The network comprising the 1,047 cooperative banks, DZ BANK, WGZ BANK and the central product specialists – Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall, R+V Versicherung, Union Investment, VR-LEASING, TeamBank, DZ PRIVATBANK plus the three mortgage banks DG HYP, WL BANK and Münchner Hypothekenbank – maintained the growth trajectory of the previous year, and generated consolidated net profit of €7.8 billion.
Once more, the Cooperative Financial Network proved itself a strong lender and a reliable partner to small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany. Yet again, the tremendous confidence placed in us by our customers and 18 million members was reflected in higher volumes of customer business. Customer loans increased by 3.4 percent to €671 billion, with particularly strong growth in lending to corporate clients and in consumer home finance. Despite fierce competition, the volume of customer deposits also grew again, rising from €693 billion to €713 billion.
However, the future has major challenges in store for us. The interest-rate situation that has depressed earnings for a considerable time, for example, is putting increased pressure on the financial performance of banks. In addition to the process optimizations required, the Cooperative Financial Network is also rising to the digital challenges of our time in the form of numerous joint commercial initiatives and large-scale projects. This will be a strategic investment in the ongoing development of the cooperative business model combined with personal service and customer-friendly online access.
The burden placed on the cooperative banks by the swathe of regulatory requirements is also growing steadily. In the interests of savers in Germany, we are firmly opposed to the mounting European demands for joint liability for deposit guarantee schemes in the eurozone. Rather than progress for the euro area, this would represent a clear step toward transfer union.
Dr. Andreas Martin