Why Deutsche Bankers in Asia aren’t very loyal

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Why Deutsche Bankers in Asia aren’t very loyal

Deutsche Bank may already be worrying about whether its top bankers in Hong Kong and Singapore will want to stick around if the firm merges with Commerzbank. But perhaps it shouldn’t be so concerned – its Asian employees are already a disloyal bunch compared with their counterparts in other regions, Deutsche’s new Human Resources Report reveals.

In Asia Pacific, the average tenure with Deutsche is 5.5 years. That’s up from 4.8 years in 2015, but still well behind other regions. Deutsche Bankers in the Americas stick with the company for 7.8 years, while those in EMEA (outside Germany) stay on board for almost 11. The average for Germany is a staggering 19.7.

Unsurprisingly, given the above, ‘voluntary staff turnover’ (people who quit their jobs of their own accord) is also higher in Asia that elsewhere. Deutsche lost 18% of its Asia employees in this way last year, up from 16.8% in 2017. The global average is 8.4%.

What explains these huge disparities between Asia and the rest of the world? James McMurdo, head of Deutsche’s corporate and investment bank for Asia Pacific, made job cuts in mid-2018, which would have affected average staff tenures in CIB. Hong Kong and Singapore – alongside the US and UK – were hit by a 7.4% fall in CIB headcount last year, according to Deutsche’s HR report.

Moreover, as we reported in August, the uncertainty created by these layoffs also caused some staff to move voluntarily to other firms, which would have helped to boost staff turnover. This trend has been ongoing for the past nine months. “I’m getting plenty of approaches – [Deutsche] people are looking to get out of the bank as fast as possible,” a front-office headhunter in Singapore told us earlier this month. “The issue is not just that bonuses were bad again, but also that they feel there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for Deutsche’s investment bank.”

But it’s not only about recent events – Deutsche’s cuts in Asia (headcount slumped 5.4% last year) were actually less dramatic than in some other regions (North America fell by 10.5%, for example). Deutsche has a notably younger workforce in Asia than it does in other countries. It’s average employee in Asia is only 35 years old – the global figure is 42. As in most sectors, banking professionals tend to move jobs more frequently when they are younger.

Moreover, Deutsche is unlikely to be the only bank whose Asian employees are less loyal than their colleagues globally. As we’ve frequently reported, financial professionals in Singapore and Hong Kong typically change jobs more often that those in Western financial centres. Job hopping is an established part of the cities’ labour markets, which tend to be talent-short, enabling candidates to move every two or three years with no negative impact on their careers.

Deutsche’s Asian workforce isn’t only based in Hong Kong and Singapore – much of it is located in the Pune technology centre in India, where the bank has just doubled its graduate intake. Several other banks – notably Barclays and UBS – are hiring hundreds of people in Pune. Competition for tech talent in the city is fierce and turnover rates are generally high.

Still, while Deutsche’s Asian staff may be less loyal than those in other markets, they at least seem to be enjoying their short stints with the firm. 68% of them say they're committed to Deutsche Bank – significantly above the global average of 57%.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com

Image credit: Getty

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