|Banking in Austria|
|Written by morgenhund|
|Wednesday, 04 January 2012 12:25|
Austria's banks continue to be in the news on a near daily basis, given the ongoing volatile conditions prevailing at the moment, as well as the scandals that they have been implicated in recent years. The industry's principle "players" are Erste Bank, Raiffeisen Bank, Bank Austria (part of the Italian UniCredit Group), BAWAG.PSK and Volksbank. The banks have endured a rocky ride in recent times - prior to the financial crisis, BAWAG, then trade union-owned, had to be rescued in 2005 following the Refco scandal, while Volksbank failed the EBA banking stress test in July 2011 and has had to delay repayment of financial support from the Austrian state. Hypo-Alpe-Adria Bank, purchased by BayernLB in 2007 also had to be nationalised in 2009 to avoid collapse. Austria's banks are also active in neighbouring countries in CESEE - having had a strong presence since the opening of banking markets in the region. In 2011, however, several banks were forced to write-off acquisition costs of banks in the region amid the continuing difficult prevailing conditions.
It would, however, be unfair to suggest that banking in Austria is any more hazardous an activity than in any other European country. The Finanzmarktaufsicht (FMA) is the regulator of the banks in conjunction with the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB), and there are deposit guarantee systems in place to protect investors.
While it might take a bit of getting used and stomaching that one has to pay for banking services in Austria, the main banks offer competent service, a wide range of products (from current accounts - e.g. a Gehaltskonto, through to savings accounts and private banking, investment banking, insurance services, loans and mortgages). Most also have English language interfaces for their online banking services. Service is still vastly more personal than it the UK - Austrians like face-to-face contact, so you will be given a Kundenbetreuer for your accounts and not shunted off to a call centre as has become the norm in some other countries. There are also purely online banks too - for those who prefer clicks over bricks - including Easybank and ING DiBa.
Many questions on banking have been addressed here on Vienna Expats - the Money and Finance subforum contains a lot of information about banking and financial services, both for private and business customers. Click here to visit it.
The Oesterreichische Nationalbank produces a regularly electronic publication (in English and German) about Austria and its banks - which can be downloaded from the OeNB's public website (link supplied below). As the OeNB website states: Published by the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, “Facts on Austria and Its Banks” provides a regular assessment of economic and banking developments in Austria, based on key indicators for the economy (e.g. economic structure, innovation performance, inflation, labor market, real estate market, external trade, government debt) and the banking industry (e.g. profitability, capital ratios, levels of exposure to CESEE).
Further information about some of the banks mentioned in this article:
Wikipedia article on BAWAG - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAWAG
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 January 2012 13:01|