Dr Stefan W Kaminsky, who passed away in 2002 at the age of 75, was a truly remarkable retail banker. He was the partner with unlimited liability from 1963 to 1975 — and later chairman of the supervisory board from 1975 to 1980 — of the Düsseldorf-based Kundenkreditbank KGaA (KKB as this limited partnership company with shares established by his father in 1951 was usually called). At the time it was the world's only commercial bank that focused entirely on serving consumers.
Its clients were typically working class or lower income, many from immigrant communities. Kaminsky was and remains a unique figure in retail banking worldwide. He despised the sales-driven culture that has done so much damage to retail banking over the past quarter century, and argued that the only product that a bank should provide is a long-term, lifetime relationship.
Stefan Kaminsky is today a global icon for retail banking. His ideas and philosophies are not bound by time — and strangely seem particularly relevant today. Kaminsky would not have been surprised by all the mis-selling scandals that have so damaged the reputation of retail banks in recent years. He predicted them.
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