Life insurance policies, current accounts, building loan contracts – financial planning is life planning. Consumers use many different financial services and are particularly reliant on suitable advice and products, for example in the case of private pension schemes or insurance products It concerns their financial future and security, but also their everyday products such as current accounts and credit cards, which are almost indispensable nowadays. But financial markets are expert markets and the products are often complex. For this reason, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, vzbv) and the Consumer Associations monitor and analyse financial markets from the consumer perspective.
Team Monitoring Financial Markets is currently working on the following issues:
- Credit (for example consumer credits, mortgages, loans that do not require a positive credit score)
- Financial investments/pension schemes (for example state-subsidised private “Riester” pension schemes, investment funds, saving arrangements for building purposes)
- Unregulated capital markets (for example trading platforms, crowd investment)
- Insurance policies (for example life insurance policies and pension schemes, residual debt insurance policies)
- Payment transactions (for example current accounts, digital payment methods)
Since the end of 2015, the following shortcomings (among others) have been identified in the financial sector and eliminated thanks to the team’s work:
- Financial investments: Judgement against Exporo AG Following a lawsuit filed by vzbv, the brokerage platform for property investments is required to clearly inform consumers of the risk of a total loss in its advertising videos.
- State-subsidised private pension scheme ‘Riester’: Prohibition of double cost charging for Riester pension schemes In December 2018, the Team Monitoring Financial Markets discovered, through consumer complaints it had received that the Württemberg-based insurance company Württembergische Versicherung was charging acquisition and distribution costs twice on Riester pension schemes. vzbv reported its findings to the competent supervisory authority, leading to a successful outcome. In March 2019, the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) ordered the German insurance sector to refrain from charging acquisition and distribution costs twice for Riester pension schemes if the total premium remains the same. In October 2019, the German Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) announced that numerous insurers had committed to handling the submitted customer complaints regarding the procedure accordingly.
- Payment transactions: An analysis of the comparison website for current accounts operated by Check24 in August 2020 uncovered numerous weaknesses of that comparison tool. It did not allow for a truly independent and correct comparison of accounts. Following a lawsuit by vzbv, Check24 took its comparison website offline.