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Deutsche Bank really isn't the nasty bank any more

Once upon a time, Deutsche Bank had a bit of a reputation. Before the financial crisis, the German bank was known for being an abrasive sort of employer with a propensity for pitting employees against each other. - Co-heads were common, including unwitting co-heads, who suddenly found the bank had hired a new person to do their job without prior discussion.

But Deutsche Bank isn't like that now. The bank with a reputation for being a bit nasty has become really rather nice. 

This is partly by design. In late 2021, Drew Goldman, the bank's then-head of investment banking coverage and advisory, said the bank wasn't going to tolerate high performers who weren't culture-carriers:  "It doesn’t matter how productive they are.” Drew - who was himself a notable nice guy and culture carrier - has since left the bank for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, but Deutsche's recent hires have perpetuated the ethos. 

Most notably, Deutsche went out of its way to hire Johnny Moore, the former head of global credit at Credit Suisse, creating a job especially for him when he left Credit Suisse last May. People who've worked with Moore say he's "very loved" and trustworthy. - "He came through the ranks himself and is very down to earth." Diego Discepoli, the ex-head of Credit Suisse's global credit products business in EMEA, is similarly popular and is also moving across.  

As Moore attracts people who respected him from Credit Suisse, he stands to create a pocket of pleasantness in the fixed income trading business that was formerly the heart of Deutsche Bank's badlands. But sources say the new niceness at DB comes from the very top. "The culture there has completely changed under Ram Nayak," says one headhunter, referring to the former head of fixed income who was promoted to co-run the investment bank in January. "Nayak is a nice guy, and Deutsche really isn't a horrible place anymore." 

It helps that growing the fixed income trading franchise is a priority for Nayak. Deutsche is pushing into new areas, including areas it was once in and pulled out of. These include metals trading and residential mortgaged backed trading, which it pulled out of around a decade ago. 

It helps, too, that Deutsche has imported plenty of senior macro traders from Morgan Stanley, a bank known for being a comparatively pleasant place to work. It's also infused the team with former JPMorgan hires, including Verena Kruse, the head of EMEA FX sales, who joined from JPMorgan in September 2021, Fabian Lang, the head of insurance and pensions for Germany who joined from JPMorgan in July 2021, and Daniel Theuerkauf in European credit solutions, who joined in October 2022.

Not everyone is convinced that the transformation is complete, though. A senior trader at a rival bank tells us Deutsche now looks "long seniority" in its credit sales and trading team, and could be forced to trim a few people in 2023. In February 2022, the bank hired Michel Ramon, a "great guy" from Mizuho as co-head of North European credit flow sales, even though it already had Holger Knieper, who'd recently been promoted to MD and was doing something really quite similar. "It's the kind of place where you think you're doing well, and they suddenly move the metrics," the same rival trader observes.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • ca
    18 December 2022

    thanks for confirming they were at least once nasty. Pre-2008, it was a cesspool of untalented cowboys, and even worse in asia, just a bunch of clowns who can't make money outside of a bank

  • Re
    15 December 2022

    Now the nice guys ? This is the bank that was the first in the street to abandon the traditional "1 month for each year" for severance payments and just give statutory minimum. Let's see how they treat people thrown on the scrap heap in 2023.

  • Ba
    14 December 2022

    Certainly still nasty. There is still a lot of pure male teams where women aren't getting the same training and leadership opportunities. Co-heads without warning might have reduced, but on the floor people have been routinely staffed in the same roles without notice. Complaining is a fraught path since most of those you'll complain to are the ones making the decisions. Women get more training responsibilities without the credit and asked to continuously train collegues into their own competition.

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