Deutsche Bank CEO faces board grilling on turnaround progress
Frankfurt: Two years into the job as Deutsche Bank’s chief executive, John Cryan faces its board this week amid growing investor frustration over the speed of his turnaround plans.
Cryan, along with his top managers, is in Berlin to update chairman Paul Achleitner and the rest of the supervisory board on progress on Deutsche Bank’s most pressing projects, a person familiar with the meeting on Monday and Tuesday said.
These include integrating Deutsche Bank’s giant retail arm Postbank and the planned partial listing of its asset management business next year, part of the British CEO’s pledge to focus on Germany after years of rampant and risky growth overseas.
Fresh off the plane from a conference in Singapore, Cryan is also expected to brief the board on an overhaul of Deutsche Bank’s investment bank and its plans for Brexit.
Under Cryan, Deutsche Bank has been trying to regain its footing after a series of scandals, lawsuits and bets that went wrong pushed it to the brink of collapse last year.
Although the bank’s share price has stabilized, its revenue is still declining, heaping the pressure on Cryan.
“We need to see progress, otherwise the bank will lose credibility,” one large Deutsche Bank investor told Reuters.
“The bank doesn’t have many arrows left in its quiver.”
Risky baby steps
Market moves may not be in Cryan’s favour as he seeks to ramp up revenues at Deutsche Bank, which could lead him to consider taking on bigger risks.
In July, Deutsche forecast lower full-year revenue and only a modest improvement in earnings after a drop in capital markets trading hit second-quarter sales.
And in an interview broadcast on Monday, Cryan signalled that little had changed over the summer.
“We do see relatively little volume and volatility in the markets so that weighs a little bit on revenues.”
However, he also flagged Deutsche Bank’s appetite for risk is returning as it seeks to get return to growth.
“We are encouraging people to take on more risk. Baby steps, but we are taking on more risk. We want to grow the bank.”
New era in banking
Germany’s largest lender has also sought to highlight it has turned over a new leaf, with a TV ad campaign last month under the banner: “A new era requires new banking”.
And it will soon launch a social media campaign using the hashtag #positiveimpact to stress the good over the bad, something Cryan said the bank has failed to do in the past.
But at the forefront of the bank’s revamp is its integration of Postbank, once part of Germany’s postal service, which it bought as Europe’s debt crisis was unfolding.
After an unsuccessful attempt to sell it, Cryan opted instead to integrate Postbank with Deutsche Bank’s retail business and details on the elimination of overlap are expected in the coming weeks after Postbank CEO Frank Strauss joined Deutsche’s management board in August.
For Brexit, Cryan is planning for a “reasonable worst-case” scenario that predicts that Britain’s deal to leave the European Union will not be favourable for financial services.
Deutsche Bank, which has a large presence in London, expects to add new jobs in Frankfurt, where it plans to replicate a structure that is interchangeable with its British operations and evolve as Brexit negotiations unfold.