Pocket money column: westmark sunk

I was young, he was a so-called financial advisor. Back then he wanted my money, now he’s on Jauch’s talk show: a reunion with Carsten Maschmeyer.

Skin taut in the spotlight: Carsten Maschmeyer. Image: dpa

A week ago, I saw Carsten Maschmeyer again. We had business dealings in the nineties. I gave him money, he sank it. That was the contract between me, a naive twenty-something from the East, and him, the mustachioed head of AWD.

For seven years it went like this: on the first of the month, Carsten’s financial services company collected 100 Westmarks. At the end of the year, I received a letter saying that everything was going worse and worse – that’s why the 7 percent interest had not materialized again.

So now I saw him. He was on Gunther Jauch’s talk show, discussing the salary levels for managers and supervisory board members. We had both grown older. Carsten, however, had visibly done something for his appearance. He had shaved off his beard, his smooth facial skin stretched in the spotlight. His ears, I thought, were they already so far back then?

On the subject of manager salaries, he contributed two fine sentences: "Where exceptional performance is possible, it must also be possible to pay exceptional." As well as: "If managers develop a great product that sells well, they should be paid accordingly." Same old, same old.

Oh well, I’m glad I’m not mad anymore. Unlike at the end of the contract. After the seven-year term, I had gotten less money back from Carsten’s DWS than I had paid in. I wrote a letter in which I called DWS foul names in general, but didn’t do the obvious – threaten legal action or walk it off. Years later, I learned that AWD had screwed thousands of small savers. Today I know that I’m lucky to have gotten any money back at all.

I used the 7,000 marks to buy a used Renault, whose timing belt broke after two months. I paid 2,000 marks for repairs and chalked it up as a lesson in "Introduction to the Political Economy of Capitalism." Perhaps, I thought, the Marxism-Leninism lecturers in East Berlin had been right after all in saying that the capitalist didn’t care about people as long as they dutifully served to increase capital.

Never, never again would I buy, first, a Renault. Or, secondly, let a so-called financial advisor into my apartment to get a 50-page "financial optimization plan" to sign. Even Maschmeyer has sold his AWD. His assets are estimated at 650 million euros.

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