Consumers in Germany are becoming increasingly used to the low interest rate environment. They are, however, still unwilling to accept negative interest on bank deposits. These are the findings of a recent survey on the influence of the low interest rate environment on the savings behaviour of bank customers. The survey was carried out by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim on behalf of ING-DiBa AG.

At the beginning of the research project in October 2016, ZEW researchers already carried out a first survey among approximately 3,600 bank customers. In October 2017, a second survey, which included additional questions, was conducted among 3,100 participants in order to analyse potential changes in savings behaviour. When comparing the survey results, it has been shown that the current low interest rate level has considerably less influence on the savings behaviour of Germans than it still had one year ago.  

64 per cent of the respondents stated that the low interest rate level has no influence on their savings behaviour (autumn 2016: 56 per cent). According to the results of the survey, this is the case particularly among younger and risk-tolerant savers. By contrast, 92 per cent of those respondents saying that their savings behaviour has in fact changed due to the low interest rate level stated to save less or no money (autumn 2016: 91 per cent).

Growing interest in finding investment alternatives

The survey – just as in the previous year – shows that particularly among younger, wealthy and risk-tolerant savers, there is a growing interest in finding investment alternatives such as real estate and securities as a result of low interest rates. However, liquid investment options are slowly gaining in attractiveness again, with half of the respondents considering call money and fixed deposits to be increasingly attractive or at least as attractive an investment as before (autumn 2016: 36 per cent).

When compared to last year’s survey, bank customers consider it slightly less likely that banks will introduce negative interest rates on deposits on a large scale. If negative interest rates were to be implemented, however, this would bring about radical changes in the market: 36 per cent of investors would withdraw money from their banking accounts and a further 14 per cent would invest in more risky assets.

For further information please contact

Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Martin Weber, Phone +49 (0)621/181-1532, E-mail weber@bank.bwl.uni-mannheim.de

Dr. Oliver Lerbs, Phone +49 (0)621/1235-147, E-mail oliver.lerbs@zew.de

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