Deutsche Bank’s equities-focused job cuts in Asia have begun. But many of the affected staff saw the writing on the wall several weeks ago and have since been steadily calling headhunters about new jobs. Moreover, some of them just want to land their redundancy payments and be rid of the bank.
Deutsche did not provide us with a geographical breakdown of the 18,000 redundancies it is making globally under its ‘radical transformation’ of its business, but Asia is widely reported to be less affected than Europe and the US. Nevertheless, early this morning senior managers in Asia informed employees that the equities trading business across the region is closing down, reports the Financial Times. Up to half of Deutsche’s Asian equities staff are departing shortly and the remainder will follow later this year, according to Bloomberg.
While the equities layoffs are more extensive than expected, the fact that the unit has been targeted for cuts isn’t surprising. Deutsche equities employees in Hong Kong and Singapore began contacting recruiters back in May after initial plans to scale back their team were announced. “More and more Deutsche Bank people have been getting in touch. They all want to know what else is out there,” a Singapore-based recruiter told us at the time.
We understand that few of them have landed new roles since May, although many of their job searches are now at least more advanced than would typically be the case during a mass redundancy.
Recruiters we spoke with today say Deutsche’s restructuring announcement has led to a further spike in calls, but that the job seekers are generally sanguine about their fate, partly because it was fairly well signposted.
“We’ve seen those who are indifferent to the news, and in fact there are people who are looking forward to the redundancy payout,” says Pan Zaixian, a partner at recruiters Pan & Co in Singapore. “There are also pockets of people whose jobs aren’t being cut but they want to leave, so they’re enquiring internally whether they can volunteer for a package,” he adds.
If you’ve just been axed from Deutsche’s Asian equities team, your chances of landing a similar role at a global bank in Singapore or Hong Kong aren’t particularly good. Just last week BNP Paribas cut most of its Asia equity research team, while Morgan Stanley and Nomura trimmed their Asian equities operations in the second quarter. This follows a three-year period of layoffs in Asian equities, which includes cuts by Credit Suisse, Barclays and Standard Chartered.
“It’s not surprising to see banks scaling down in Asian equities. MiFID, the movement toward e-platforms, the popularity of passive strategies, and the economic downcycle are some of the reasons,” says Pan. “Equities staff who are used to investment banking salaries will have to recalibrate their lifestyle and pay expectations. In the long term that may not be a bad thing as it allows them to re-evaluate their careers,” he adds.
“My advice is simple: move to the buyside,” says Hong Kong trader-turn headhunter Matt Hoyle, commenting on the Deutsche equities cuts. “All banks are shrinking their equities businesses in Asia, except perhaps JP Morgan, because it’s clearly the largest. The main driver is automation, but also less risk tolerance from senior management. Asian equities operations are considered satellite businesses and the revenue generated here is also much lower,” he adds.
Deutsche equities employees in Asia may be casting an envious eye toward their colleagues in wealth management. As we reported last week, that unit is hiring about 100 more relationship and investment managers. Private banking has emerged as one of the winners from CEO Christian Sewing’s restructuring plans.
Image credit: Meinzahn, Getty
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