It's not exactly a hard-stop, but it is certainly a commitment. - At the end of May, Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing said his intention was for the German bank to make the "vast majority" of its front office job cuts by July 2018. July is three days away, so if you still work in a front office banking job at Deutsche Bank, does this mean you're safe? Well...
"The mood among the traders I speak at Deutsche Bank is grim, but not as fearful as it was," says one buy-side equities trader in New York City, speaking on condition of anonymity. "- Basically, if you're there now, you're ok for the moment." A director in Deutsche's U.S. equities business agrees: "We had a biggish round in May, but since then we have been good. Most teams have reached their headcount targets and don't need to do anything more."
There have certainly been exits. The London emerging markets M&A team has gone. So has the London shipping team, various members of the healthcare team, the entire oil and gas team, and everyone in the Houston office. Alasdair Warren, the former EMEA head of corporate finance, has left. So has global head of M&A Thomas Piquemal, along with Scott Sartorius and Christopher Blum, the two heads of its U.S. leveraged finance business. Equity structurers have gone in London. Equity researchers have gone in Dubai. The New York repo desk has been seriously shrunk and senior people in the U.S. prime finance business are no more. High yield traders are reportedly leaving the London office this week...
But have there really been the many thousands of redundancies implied by Sewing's headcount reduction target? As we noted before, Sewing hasn't given exact figures for front office office job cuts in the investment bank. However, his targeted cuts of 7,000 (minimum) from across the bank and a presumed 5,000 cuts from the corporate and investment bank, suggest that 2,200 jobs should go from the front office if cuts are split in proportion to the bank's workforce at the end of the first quarter.
Both headhunters and Deutsche insiders say this seems like an exaggeration. The general verdict is that while job cuts have been happening, front office layoffs been far fewer than might have been expected. "They're doing it different this time," says one New York MD at the bank. "They're not just cutting the front office, but the mid-and back offices as well. When they move U.S. swaps to London, for example, they will close the entire infrastructure that supported them in N.Y."
The upshot is that for front office Deutsche bankers in revenue-generating roles, at least, June hasn't been as bloody as might have been expected. To help palliate the pain further, DB insiders say the bank is also doing its utmost to help staff who are let go: if possible, they're being rehoused within the organization, if not, senior staff are using their own networks to find team members jobs elsewhere. "A lot of managers have put considerable effort into finding their vulnerable staff situations in other shops," says the MD. "- This kind of situation brings out the best in people."
Even so, not everyone is feeling the love. With Deutsche's share price below €9 for the first time since the 1980s and down 44% year-to-date, there are fears that another round of cuts could be coming in the autumn.
In the meantime, some DB staff aren't waiting to see how things turn out. Earlier this month, some of Deutsche's most senior equity derivatives professionals left for Morgan Stanley. "Most people in DB equities would jump to a competitor given half the chance," says the U.S. equities trader. Sewing might even welcome this: a few hundred voluntary exits could further reduce the need for forced evacuations.
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