Banking for broads

Ka-ching! Germany now has a bank dedicated to serving women.

Published December 6, 2005 9:25PM (EST)

We've got women's colleges, women's gyms -- and women's blogs -- so why not women's banks? Today's Telegraph reports that Astrid Hastreiter, a 41-year-old information technology specialist from Germany, has founded "Frauenbank," a she-centric bank designed to "liberate female customers from dealing with patronizing, traditional bank managers."

Though Hastreiter still needs to raise the equivalent of $12 million in order to pay for a full-service banking license, Frauenbank's first branch -- in Munich -- has already attracted 300 customers. Who are they? According to Hastreiter, her clients are overwhelmingly university educated and between the ages of 30 and 55. "It is extraordinary how many German women avoid talking about their money and what to do with it, simply because they are not keen to sit opposite a sharp-suited banker who has little understanding of their needs," she tells reporter Kate Connolly. Indeed, buoyed by the public's positive response, Hastreiter intends to open three more branches of Frauenbank in other German cities and to offer credit by the year 2007.

Could an all-woman bank have crossover appeal? Of course, says Hastreiter -- in fact, already, "a handful" of Frauenbank's customers are male. "We are women friendly, but that does not mean that we are hostile to men," she explains.

Funny, that sounds so familiar ...

By Sarah Karnasiewicz

Sarah Karnasiewicz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Until recently, she was senior editor at Saveur magazine; prior to that she was deputy Life editor at Salon. She has contributed to the New York Times, the New York Observer and Rolling Stone, among other publications. For more of her work, visit and Signs and Wonders.

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