The banks in Germany are pretty much as in any country; big, powerful, egotistical and a necessity. The branches of big banks can be found scattered across urban areas of the Ruhr region keeping plenty of people in employment and offering services over the counter. The largest retail banks are Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, which has taken over Dresdner Bank. The group of the Sparkassen offer a local organisation in virtually every neighbourhood of Germany.
Noteworthy perhaps is that the Commerzbank acquired Dresdner in the true local style of finding a so-called German solution, in spite of good alternatives on the table. The price of this move has been closure of outlets and bailouts by government, i.e. the people to the tune of 25%. Much to the surprise of the average German, Deutsche Bank ranks lower than often thought on the global stage. Discussion was high when a non Germanic foreigner (although his predecessor was Austrian) became the boss of this venerable institution.
Those wishing for a more personal touch could choose private bankers such as HSBC Trinkaus & Burghardt, Merck Finck or Sal. Oppenheim. Many web versions of banks roam the marketplace, some of which are subsidiaries of larger, traditional ones. Banks offer internet banking, which is much more flexible than in the UK. The best option your writer has found in English (and French or Turkish) is that of the Sparkasse Köln Bonn
There is seldom a free account available and costs for simply fulfilling the need to receive and transfer money are high compared with many other places including the UK.
One of the great advantages of an account in the Euro zone is that movement of funds is treated as local regardless of whether to or from Neuss, Amsterdam, Helsinki or elsewhere. The transfer is normally free, unlike the whopping fee of 25 pounds sterling (at the time of writing) for every transaction, regardless of the amount, from UK banks to a Euro account.
One strange quirk of the German system is that no option is available on cash dispensers to supply a receipt for withdrawals. Now that is a surprise for the most correct people on the planet. Another is that no court cases at any level seem to have been instigated to rectify the situation for those that want a slip. Careful, many banks can charge huge fees for withdrawing cash.