Private bank

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Private banks (also: private banks ) are credit institutions that have legal forms under private law and whose shareholders are neither public authorities nor members of a cooperative .


In Germany there is a three-pillar model , which is made up of public banks , cooperative institutions and private banks. These three groups differ in particular in the nature of their shareholders. While the federal government (e.g. at KfW ), the federal states (often at Landesbanken and promotional banks ) or the municipalities ( savings banks ) act as shareholders in public banks , in cooperative-oriented banks it is the members of a cooperative bank organized according to the cooperative law . Private banks can therefore be understood as a residual, to which all other groups of shareholders belong. All privately owned institutions are therefore private banks. In a broader sense, this also includes the group of specialist banks ( mortgage lending institutions , private building societies ), house banks ( VW Bank or BMW Bank ) and branch banks ( Bank für Sozialwirtschaft or Pax-Bank ). They have a high concentration of risk in their loan portfolios .

Classification by the Deutsche Bundesbank

The Deutsche Bundesbank does not know the term "private banks" and divides the credit institutions into bank groups on the basis of banking supervision considerations :

According to statistics, the private banks belong to the aggregate of credit banks; until December 1998 they formed the independent group of private bankers.


In terms of banking operations, a distinction is made between large banks , regional banks , private banks run by private bankers and foreign banks .

The approx. 230 private banks in Germany are united in the Federal Association of German Banks (BDB). Overall, it can be assumed that there are around 45 private banks in the narrower sense of the word in Germany.

Legal issues

The legal form of sole trader is not permitted for all credit institutions under Section 2b (1) KWG. Private banks are typically run as partnerships (OHG, KG). The terms bank or banker are protected under Section 39 (1) KWG and may only be used by the group finally listed in the law. In Switzerland, Bankier is protected by a collective trademark that is deposited with the Swiss Federal Institute for Intellectual Property in Bern.

While Section 340k (1) of the HGB generally requires banks to have their annual financial statements audited by auditors , Section 340k (2) and (3) of the German Commercial Code (HGB) contain exceptions due to the special features of the audit organizations (auditing associations) in the annual financial statements for cooperatives and savings banks. Therefore, Section 340k (1) of the German Commercial Code (HGB) only affects the other credit institutions, including private banks.


The private banks are the oldest banking group in Germany with roots in the Middle Ages. Silfried Guldenschlaff, Jekil Humbrecht zu Schlammstein and Johann Palmstorffer zum Quydenbaum were the first private bankers in Germany in 1403. The oldest owner-managed private bank in Germany is Berenberg Bank , established in 1590 by the brothers Hans and Paul Berenberg in Hamburg. Other private banks steeped in tradition are the Metzler bank, which was established in 1674, and the Bethmann Bank , founded on January 2, 1748 , the third oldest bank in Germany. It was created by Johann Philipp and Simon Bethmann until the family dynasty left the bank in 1976 and Bayerische Vereinsbank joined . In February 2004 Delbrück Bethmann Maffei AG started in the old Bethmannhof in Frankfurt as the youngest German private bank. Bankhaus Löbbecke opened in 1761, Trinkaus in 1785 , Sal. Oppenheim in 1789 (advertises with “private bankers since 1789”) and in 1790 the JH Stein bank . Marcard, Stein & Co emerged from it in January 1987 . These banks combine tradition, selection based on wealthy customer groups and a passive nature. Private banks usually limit their business activities to asset management and banking in the context of private banking . The term private banking sounds like “private bank” and is mostly associated with it today, but all other banking groups also operate private banking. The first private bank to be run as a stock corporation was A. Schaaffhausen'sche Bankverein , which had been run as an AG from August 28, 1848. The Bankhaus Lampe opened on October 1, 1852 Merck Finck & Co followed on 1 July 1870 Schröder, Münchmeyer, Hengst & Co. was recorded in October 1969 result of a merger of three smaller regional banks, since June 2005, it operates under the Company UBS Germany AG . Many of the private bankers of the 19th century were of Jewish origin, so that these banks were either liquidated during the Aryanization from 1933 or had to be taken over by German owners. From the Jewish Cologne bank Sternfeld & Tiefenthal , founded in 1885, the Bankhaus Hocker & Co. emerged due to Aryanization in 1938, which the Cologne banker's son Iwan David Herstatt took over in June 1955 after the death of the owner Hans Hocker (died on April 22, 1954) . His bank ID Herstatt gained worldwide fame after its spectacular closure on June 26, 1974 at the latest. The Sal. Oppenheim bank is Europe's largest private bank and was run by Robert Pferdmenges until 1947 during the Aryanization ; Since October 28, 2009 it has been wholly owned by Deutsche Bank AG .

In December 2013, the private banks had a market share (based on business volume) of 33.0% (this includes the branches of foreign credit institutions; large banks 17.6%), while the public credit institutions 31.3% (including 16.4% savings banks) and the credit unions hit 15%.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Stephan Scholz / Andre Krupp / Christian Hillers, Das Drei-Säulen-System im Deutschen Bankenmarkt , 2009, p. 4 ff.
  2. Patrick Zenz-Spitzweg, The choice of the provider in private banking , 2007, p. 38
  3. Hans E. Büschgen, Bankbetriebslehre: Banking transactions and bank management , 2013, p. 81
  4. The latter, however, is organized as a cooperative
  5. ^ Deutsche Bundesbank, Directory of Credit Institutions , Banking Information 2, January 2014, p. 3 ff.
  6. Marc van Hoekelum: The truth about the financial center Bern . 2010, p. 21 (online) .
  7. Patrick Zenz-Spitzweg, The choice of the provider in private banking , 2007, p. 130
  8. Bankhistorisches Archiv, Zeitschrift für Bankengeschichte, supplement 41, Hans-Dieter Kirchholtes, Der Privatbankier , 2003, p. 62
  9. Ingo Köhler, The "Aryanization" of the private banks in the Third Reich , 2005, p. 357
  10. Statista statistics portal, market shares of banking groups in Germany 2013