FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) - According to an EY survey, companies will in many cases have to prepare themselves for stricter scrutiny of loan applications by banks in the coming months. One in two of the 100 financial institutions surveyed (52 percent) expect a more restrictive approach to granting loans to corporate customers in the next six months, according to the "Banking Barometer" published by the consulting firm EY on Monday. In contrast, 40 percent assume that nothing will change in the granting of loans, while 8 percent expect a less strict approach than recently.

Seven out of ten banks (72 percent) also expect credit risks to increase as a result of the structural change in the German economy. Just two percent of the banks surveyed assume that risks will decrease. For the "Banking Barometer", EY surveyed 100 representative financial institutions in Germany in April and May of this year, including private banks, cooperative banks and savings banks.

Further branch closures

The industry is unanimous in its assessment that branch closures will continue. In the EY survey, a majority of 63 percent expect the number of bank branches in Germany to fall further by up to ten percent or even more by 2025. Only one of the 100 institutions surveyed expects that there will be no further cuts to the branch network in Germany by 2025.

According to the latest Bundesbank figures, the number of bank branches in Germany fell below the 20,000 mark for the first time last year: banks and savings banks in Germany still had 19,501 staffed branches at the end of December. Because many people carry out banking transactions on their home computer or via an app on their smartphone, financial institutions have been thinning out their expensive branch network for years and trying to maintain their presence in the area away from fixed locations: for example, through video advice, advice centers with longer opening hours, including on Saturdays, with savings bank buses or shared branches across institutional boundaries./ben/DP/stk