Deutsche Bank’s umpteenth turnaround

Deutsche Bank chief executive Christian Sewing

Deutsche Bank is planning a “global cull” of 20,000 staff, more than a fifth of those currently employed, reports Jim Armitage in the Evening Standard. Departments expected to bear the brunt of the cuts are investment banking and equities, including hundreds of workers in London. Chief executive Christian Sewing (pictured) also plans a major board shake-up. This “drastic” action has been prompted by the failure of merger talks with rival Commerzbank.

It might be hard to pay attention to these proposals since “public unveiling” of turnaround plans has become “an almost-annual rite for Deutsche Bank”, say David Enrich and Kate Kelly in The New York Times. Over the past seven years the bank “has cycled through five chief executives, with each taking at least one stab — and often more than one — at fixing its financial and cultural problems”. So far, each of them has proven to be “underwhelming” or ended up “quietly shelved”. Still, this time may be different. With the stock down 95% from its peak, “bosses will try anything”.

Deutsche isn’t alone, says Bloomberg. HSBC’s boss John Flint recently announced that “at least 500 jobs could go within global banking and markets”, while Normura has also axed jobs. This is partly due to “shaky markets, trade tensions and Brexit”. But lower revenues at investment banks and increasing investment in automating jobs are creating a banking labour market “that may be the gloomiest since the financial crisis”. Some bankers are “jumping before they are pushed”.