Much has changed since the beginning of the Volksbank. What was the last major milestone on this remarkably long road?
The Volksbank has very deep roots, which makes us strong!
What has been important in recent times is the merger of VR Bank Forst with Volksbank Spremberg-Bad Muskau in 2010.The results show that it was the right decision: high balance sheet growth, stable earnings and the highest level of customer satisfaction; with the latest media, i. e. the involvement of digitalisation with the adjustment of products and processes to changing customer needs. More and more is going online. The customer needs us when things get complicated and that’s when we are reliable, unlike the others in the network.
You are not from the region. What attracted you to Forst?
No, I’m not from Forst, I’m from Franconia.
Great people, beautiful scenery, interesting location right on the border. Coincidentally, a good friend of mine switched to the Volksbank and told about a vacant position and I applied. Then suddenly I was the board of directors. Of course, a board position was my goal for some time!
Have you always wanted to be a “banker”?
I actually started my apprenticeship at the bank because my mother said: “Go to the „Sparkasse“, there you know what you have, there you sit warm and dry. What was then not so easy – this is one of my favourite stories – is the recruitment test at the then Kreissparkasse Ludwigstadt, which took place in the sports hall. 186 participants who applied for five training places.
We would often like to see such an offer of applicants today.
Banks are sometimes viewed critically, have a less good image. Does this affect the Volksbank in the region?
Banks have not been among the most popular in the last 10 years and have come under pressure from all sides, which in part, to protect the customer, makes sense. Unfortunately, however, a completely false and undifferentiated picture has arisen, because those who, for example, that caused the last financial crisis are the big banks. The small Volksbanks and the vast majority of small Sparkassen are still quite respectable and normal institutions.
Here on site, we score points with our cooperative drive, our reliable competence, our direct approach to the customer and, in addition, our commitment to the region.
From a bank’s perspective: How do you see the future of Forst?
First of all, it has to be said that Forst has existed for 750 years now, so the question of opportunity, which is often asked, is actually completely superfluous. We still have a population of 18,000, I’m sure it will be a few less. That’s perfectly clear. But you have to take a step back to see why so many people lived in Forst in the first place. It wasn’t historically based, it was a state-imposed influx for the cloth industry. So that was simply an misguided development that is now receding, a state-induced misguided development.
Then we also have companies in Forst that are very successful and are expanding. There will be settlement of new industries in the industrial area, I’m pretty sure of that. In this respect, I assume that the equilibrium in the number of inhabitants will be well flanked by economic successes. That we will of course go through a longer transformation process is certain.
The key will be whether we all work constructively to make things really work, even in the long term. This affects not only us as a bank, but also the economy and, above all, politics and administration. The idea of providing services to the population, particularly to the people who work productively, can still be developed.
How do you see the future of the Volksbank?
Shiny of course!!