Infotech

PEL: La Banque Postale retropedal



La Banque Postale is backtracking on the thorny issue of housing savings plans (PEL). The La Poste subsidiary has just concluded an agreement with UFC-Que Choisir on the conditions for opening and operating PELs in order to put an end to the legal proceedings initiated by the consumer association last year.

This accused the bank of illegally forcing its customers holding a PEL to open a current account in the establishment, for a fee. Some of his clients, who had refused to comply, then saw their savings plans closed. UFC-Que Choisir, which contested the legality of these practices, then decided to bring the case before the Paris Court. In the end, there was no litigation.

The agreement signed between the two parties therefore provides for the removal of the obligation to hold a postal checking account. “PELs held at La Banque Postale can now be funded from an account opened in the customer’s name in another bank”, specifies UFC-Que Choisir in a press release published Thursday.

Turnaround

For customers whose savings plan had been closed in 2020 because they had not opened a current account or subscribed to a scheduled payment service, the agreement must also allow the reopening of the PEL, “under identical conditions to those on the day of the closing”, and “by taking over the benefit of the anteriority and without financial loss”.

Customer information on obligations relating to PEL payments (minimum on subscription, annual minimum, frequency, etc.) will also be reinforced.

At La Banque Postale, we plead good faith on this file. The obligation to hold an account was linked, according to the institution, to proper compliance with the regulations, as this made it possible to better trace the compulsory and regular payments to be made. A process with automatic payment from a postal account to the ELP had thus been set up.

“There may have been a slightly too strict interpretation of the regulations on the side of the bank”, justifies a source close to the subsidiary of La Poste. Who ensures that the criticisms made by UFC-Que Choisir were immediately recognized and that the mediation took place without the slightest problem.

La Banque Postale’s reversal nevertheless testifies to the more general malaise in the sector regarding the management of these savings products: initially designed to facilitate the purchase of real estate, they have gradually become a separate investment, very well remunerated for customers. , but very expensive for banks.

An “out of step” level of remuneration

At the end of 2020, the outstanding amount of PELs amounted to 294.2 billion euros (latest figures available), according to the Banque de France, for an average rate of 2.62%. This represents an annual bill of 7.7 billion for the banks. Nearly a third of these contracts predate 2011 (the date on which the holding rules were tightened) and offer an average remuneration of 4.13%. Unbeatable in a universe of rates that are still very low, despite recent upward expectations.

“Compared to other medium-term investments without risk for the saver, this level of remuneration appears out of step”, commented the Banque de France in its 2020 report on regulated savings. The financial supervisor even considers that “these rates, almost guaranteed for life under the current state of the law, weigh on the proper financing of the French economy and on social equity”.

In the networks, the former star savings product, whose rate is now blocked at 1%, is rarely highlighted, and the collection in number of PELs has been negative since 2017. go to a bank, La Poste or elsewhere, to open a PEL, ”assures a banker.

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