Deutsche staff still “anxious” in Asia even as bank says cuts almost over

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Deutsche staff still “anxious” in Asia even as bank says cuts almost over

Almost three months after Deutsche Bank started trimming jobs from its investment bank in Hong Kong and Singapore, employees in the division are still regularly contacting headhunters about roles at other firms.

The continued discontent at Deutsche comes despite assurances from James McMurdo, head of the corporate and investment bank for Asia Pacific, earlier this week that the restructuring is almost over and the firm will soon start hiring more bankers. “Yes we did trim, but we trimmed where we thought we were less competitive, or where we thought the opportunity was not that significant and that has largely been completed,” McMurdo told Bloomberg.

Headhunters we spoke with in Asia, however, say the volume of enquiries they are receiving from people wanting to leave Deutsche is as high as it was in late May when the bank announced plan to cull more than 7,000 positions globally, including Asian equities jobs.

Some Deutsche bankers fear they will be among the final round of redundancies. “They’re still anxious. They’re telling me that the cuts aren’t yet over, and there are more to come,” says a Singapore-based investment banking recruiter.

Others simply want to move to a firm which is performing better in Asian investment banking and hasn’t gone through the same recent upheaval as Deutsche. The German firm placed 10th for Asia (ex-Japan) IB revenue by bank in the first half of this year, behind Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Citi, J.P. Morgan and four Chinese banks, according to Dealogic.

Headhunters expect the level of Deutsche enquires to fall only toward the end of the year – if there is a sustained period of improving revenues, during which headcount in Hong Kong and Singapore also remains relatively flat.

There are signs that Deutsche is already on the road to eventually improving staff morale in its Asian investment bank. McMurdo told Bloomberg, without providing figures, that the firm’s corporate finance division has recently gained market share and increased productivity. Meanwhile, although Deutsche’s equity origination revenues fell globally in the second quarter, its Q2 results point to “strong deal closure” in Asia Pacific.

McMurdo also said he wants to recruit more bankers in Asia in “the immediate future”, again without giving details. Upcoming front-office recruitment at Deutsche in Asia is likely to focus on analyst and associate level staff rather than expensive seniors, says another headhunter.

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Image credit: killerbayer, Getty

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