Ten years have passed since the crisis, a decade in which the Spanish banking client has taken the habit of litigation, something classic in the United States. This phenomenon has been fed back thanks to the judicial successes (mainly by the support of the Court of Luxembourg) achieved by the clients in floor clauses, expenses of mortgages, preferential and other products improperly marketed by banks and the appearance of massive law firms that only charge if they succeed.
A confidential report by Oliver Wyman, to which EL PAÍS has had access, calculates that there have been around 10 million people affected in Spain due to "the unfair terms and the bad conduct of commercialization of financial services". This factor is one of the ones that most hits the reputation of financial institutions.
After the first wave, another arrives "in which the pace of massive claims is expected to remain in financial services in the short term. The experts consulted by the financial consultant believe that there are multiple potential causes that can lead to unfair clauses in credit contracts, "says this firm.
There he cites the usurious interest ("it is expected to be the big boom", the report is quoted anonymously), the fees that are applied for the delay in the payment of the loan ("in consumer credit"), the rates for the early amortization of the mortgage (this issue "will continue three or four years until online banking flourishes", it is pointed out).
In addition, it warns that still the sector has the risk of condemnation of the Court of Luxembourg by the IRPH (benchmark index of mortgages), which will leave on June 24, with an effect ranging from 7,000 to 44,000 million, according to different sources, in the case of condemnation of banks. The Banco Popular trial is also pending, which could still cause surprises due to the large number of lawsuits filed.
Oliver Wyman highlights in his report a comment from an expert who states: "We have reached 50% of the problem and there is still another 50% to be dealt with" of bank litigation. And they add other phrases like that "people are increasingly more informed and claim more" or that "the great change is that people are now willing to litigate and are no longer afraid: a deep culture of complaint has been installed in the client " And summarize this situation by saying "The Pandora's box has been opened".
In addition, it warns banks that the current level of litigation, and the one that can come in the future, "will be supported by the sophistication" of the companies of massive lawsuits, which can even grow thanks to the financial support of international funds. "Given the recent growth of revenues, the massive litigants have been able to strengthen their business model and are already looking for new opportunities," says the document.
It also describes the strategy of the banks: "They have tended to outsource all the stages of the mass litigation processes to law firms, which they have defined from the defense strategy to the handling of claims; and market experts do not expect this trend to change. " The criteria by which banks choose their law firms are confidence in the quality of the service, the price, the demonstrated specialization and the size.
This report has been prepared for different interested entities, as Oliver Wyman usually does, to which the conclusions are offered. Due to the reliability of this firm, which has worked with the European Central Bank and the Bank of Spain on several occasions, the experts do not doubt that the document will come to the attention of the supervisors.
What consequences can it have? According to sources consulted, banks should increase the provisions for "legal risk", something that some entities are already doing. Bankinter, an entity that accumulates convictions for swaps (derivative products) and multi-currency mortgages, has doubled the provisions for judicial litigation. This bank closed 2018 with 184.7 million in this type of provisions compared to 85.5 million the previous year.
In addition to the money it costs the entities and the bad reputation it brings, these litigation makes them lose business. 44% of customers say they would not recommend their bank and almost a third (31%) rate their level of satisfaction below 5, according to another report by Oliver Wyman last November. In part, these results are a direct consequence of the fact that 67% have experienced some problem with their entity in the last year, and 29% have had more than three unpleasant experiences, says Oliver Wyman. These data place Spain at the head of the countries analyzed as a percentage of customers at risk of breaking ties with their current bank. Ten years after the beginning of the crisis, the scrambled times for banking continue.
The report of Oliver Wyman points out that in addition to litigation for financial products, the large industry of massive lawsuits, which only charge for success, will enter other sectors. These experts believe they can reach telecommunications companies (appointment to Vodafone), airlines (mentioning Iberia and Ryanair), highways (Iberpistas appears) and life insurance related to mortgages. Some banks charge premiums that double market prices to their mortgages for these insurances.
Oliver Wyman is one of the giants of financial consulting and has offices in more than 30 countries with 5,000 professionals. For this report, it has consulted 17 institutions, among which are large banks (such as Santander, CaixaBank and Bankia), as well as large firms (Garrigues, Uría Menéndez and Baker McKenzie), relevant auditors (such as Deloitte) and the new law firms. of massive litigation, such as Arriaga.