Deutsche Bank’s salespeople and traders are turning a new page, wiping the slate clean, sanitizing their emails, washing out their mouths and starting a whole new future in which boastfulness and vulgarity are inadmissible and politeness and modesty are as innate as reading a Bloomberg Terminal. At least this is the theory. As we were among the first to report yesterday, Colin Fan, the co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank’s investment bank has been addressing the bank’s salespeople and traders in a video circulating since April and warning them that, “being boastful, indiscreet and vulgar is not ok. It will have serious consequences for your career.”
You can see Fan speak if you click the link to the video below.
So, how vulgar are salespeople and traders at Deutsche Bank? Fan’s sudden decision to extol the virtues of modesty and discretion suggests that Deutsche may have unearthed some unacceptable communications in the process of its investigations into currency fixing, which have already seen several of its traders suspended. These have yet to become public knowledge. Until they do, known poor behaviours at Deutsche Bank include the following:
1. Making ‘festive jokes’ about being able to manipulate markets
Earlier this year, Deutsche Bank reportedly fired three of its New York-based FX traders. They included Robert Wallden, a director in the bank’s FX unit. Wallden was said to have ‘made a joke, in writing, about his ability to manipulate the markets.‘ He was later investigated by the FBI, which turned up at the Wallden house brandishing a transcript containing the joke, which was purportedly just a little light-hearted fun around the Christmas period.
2. Loose and misspelt ‘text chat’ via instant messaging systems
Deutsche Bank banned its fixed income traders from using chat rooms in late 2013. Compared to banks like UBS and RBS (and more recently RP Martin) Deutsche’s traders weren’t a big source of outrageous transcripts in the Libor investigation. However, Guillaume Adolph, a yen derivatives trader at Deutsche did allegedly turn up in some transcripts involving Tom Hayes, the ex-RBS trader accused of manipulating Libor.
In these transcripts, Hayes reportedly said: “cld you do me a favour would you mind moving you 6m libor up a bit today, i have a gigantic fix.” Adolph replied: “I can do taht.” Adolph then asked Hayes: ““u happy with me” (sic). Hayes was.
3. Waving money out of windows at people on the street below
Most outrageously, back in 2011, Deutsche Bank reportedly suspended a London-based employee for waving money out of windows. The suspended man (allegedly a trader) was seen at a window waving around a £10 note and taunting people on the street below who were protesting against health care cuts. At the time, there were also unconfirmed reports of Deutsche Bank employees photocopying money and sprinkling it on the protesters on the street.
4. Bribing clients
Earlier this year, Shigeru Echigo, a Deutsche Bank salesman in Tokyo admitted to bribing a client by spending $8.8k ‘entertaining’ him on 15 separate occasions. Echigo said he didn’t act alone and that this sort of lavish entertainment was an institutional norm at Deutsche’s Japanese brokerage unit.
5. Casual sexism
Deutsche Bank has been embroiled in several recent cases involving accusations of sexism at its investment bank. It doesn’t help that the German bank is famously lacking in women at senior levels, or that previous Deutsche CEO, Josef Ackermann, said the board might be prettier if it involved a few more females. Way back in 1999, Deutsche was compelled to pay £1m in damages to Kay Swinburne, an M&A banker who was subject to sexist remarks from her boss, Hugh Tidbury. Tidbury, head of Deutsche’s chemicals group, reportedly said that Swinburne was “hot totty” and a “bit of alright.” Deutsche kept him on for five years after the case and Tidbury now works for Greenhill in London.