Foreword of the CEO
2013 was another good year for the comdirect group, its customers and shareholders. We reached our growth targets. We gained a large number of new customers, especially through our current account, which is used by over a million people, and increased the deposit volume by €1.7bn in an environment of low interest rates. In the custody accounts, our customers achieved solid increases in value, partly through active trading and partly through ongoing savings, and also invested a substantial amount of new money in equities, ETFs and certificates. As a result, we also performed well in terms of earnings once again. The market-related decline in net interest income was limited by the increased deposit volume and adjustment of the interest rates we offer – and was more than offset by the rise in net commission income. In spite of significantly higher investment in growth, the comdirect group achieved pre-tax profit of €80.0m. Less than in the previous year, which was influenced by extraordinary effects, but considerably more than forecast.
At the same time, for savers in Germany 2013 was, to put it plainly, another lost year. Once again they forfeited billions of euros because the interest they earned, if any, was only just as high as the rate of inflation. The reason for this situation is clear. Although investors know that they have to make their own arrangements for old-age provisioning, they mistrust the securities essential for this, not to mention the investment advisers.
Savings are consequently ending up in passbooks. Consultation records and information sheets may have been introduced, but additional regulation has not bolstered confidence in share and fund investments, and moreover frequently means that providing advice is no longer worthwhile for banks. Consequently, regulation has had precisely the opposite effect. Traditional investment advice at the local bank branch is becoming a thing of the past.
comdirect offers a model for the future. We aim to facilitate access to profitable investments for large numbers of investors and enable them to confidently select the most suitable investments from the multitude of useful and fair options available. The ingredients required for this recipe for success are all in place. We are on hand to act as coach to investors, to help them assess their own capabilities, convey securitiesrelated knowledge and offer proximity with advice via video-telephony and round the clock personal service. And naturally, we have all of the investment products from a wide range of providers that are required to implement investment strategies on a straightforward and cost-efficient basis.
comdirect is building a future model for investing in securities. We facilitate access to profitable investments and support our customers as coach.
We continue to invest in this model for the future. Boosting investments in securities is a key growth and value driver for the comdirect group and allows us to reap above-average benefit from the growing acceptance of direct banking models. But it’s about more than that for us. It’s about strengthening the securities culture in Germany. It’s about the positive macroeconomic effects of inflation-resilient provisioning and asset accumulation. And it’s about providing advice that already incorporates investor protection, since for comdirect, selfdirected customers are exactly that. Rather than having decisions made for them, these customers actually determine the course of action themselves, supported by good coaching and good information.
Our strategy is essentially structured on two levels. The more successful we are in attracting broad-based customer groups with strong products and services in direct banking and a strong brand, the more customers we will be able to inspire to use our advice and guidance formats for securities. We have made further progress here in the past year. Our current account has become a personal financial manager as well, providing support for individual budget planning. And the satisfaction guarantee has been joined by our security promise for online banking.
Dr Thorsten Reitmeyer