The association

The ordinary members of the Verband der Freien Sparkassen (Association of German Independent Savings Banks) include five independent savings banks, i.e., institutions not bound to municipalities, as well as one public savings bank, which emerged from a former independent savings bank. There are 32 savings banks and an association of six other European countries affiliated with the association as extraordinary members.

Special features of independent savings banks

The first savings banks in Germany were founded as independent savings banks by socially committed private individuals at the end of the 18th and start of the 19th centuries. Numerous towns and districts later founded their own savings banks, which is why there are two separate forms of savings banks in Germany today. At present, there are five independent savings banks in the Federal Republic of Germany. There is also one public savings bank in the Association of German Independent Savings Banks, as its origins have elements connecting it to the remaining independent savings banks and the institution itself emerged from the merger of an independent savings bank with a public savings bank. The group of institutions in the Association of German Independent Savings Banks accounts for around 5% of the total assets of all German savings banks.

Due to their private status, certain business policy restrictions included in the savings banks legislation of the German states, such as the regional principle, do not apply to the independent savings banks. Nevertheless, some independent savings banks have voluntarily included similar formulations in their statutes.

Despite these differences, the independent savings banks are part of the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV), as they pursue the same charitable objectives – albeit on a different organisational basis and through autonomous structuring of their statutes. In addition, like the municipal savings banks, they are “public” (in the sense of “serving the public”), gilt-edged savings banks. In this context, the orientation of all savings banks for the common good is equally understood to mean the widespread promotion of the quality of life of the people in their business area.