“Anxious” Deutsche Bankers in Singapore seek exit and call headhunters

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Commuter Turnstile Gates at Marina Bay MRT Station Singapore

Deutsche Bankers in Singapore aren’t waiting for the axe to fall on them – many are contacting headhunters wanting to move on as soon as possible.

The surge in calls to recruiters comes as front-office staff in Deutsche’s corporate and investment bank (CIB) become increasingly concerned about probable Asian job cuts under global plans, announced on Thursday, to cull more than 7,000 positions across the firm, including 25% of equities employees.

“More and more Deutsche Bank people have been getting in touch,” says a Singapore-based recruiter, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They all want to know what else is out there, because leaving now may be better than hanging on during another big shakeup at the bank.”

Recruiters we spoke with said the surge in calls from Deutsche CIB staff in Singapore first began with the appointment of Christian Sewing as CEO last month. Sewing, who had previously been overseeing Deutsche’s private and commercial bank division, was thought (correctly, as it turns out) to favour more aggressive restructuring of the firm’s investment bank.

Sewing, however, sought to calm the nerves of Singapore-based employees during a local townhall meeting in mid-May, saying that Deutsche will stay “strong” in Asia and isn’t planning to exit any markets in the region even as it goes ahead with a global overhaul. But his speech hasn’t helped to stem rising levels of job enquiries from Deutsche staff, says the recruiter. “The very fact that he had a townhall partly focused on reassuring staff in Asia shows there’s a problem with morale here and that employees are anxious.”

And while Deutsche may not be exiting any Asian countries altogether, the assumption is that it will shed staff in Asia under its latest global revamp. “It’s likely DB will pare down the IBD and financial markets businesses further here,” says a source with knowledge of the bank in Singapore. Deutsche already has a recent track record of redundancies the region. Last year, employees in Singapore and Hong Kong were cut under an international plan to shed 17% and 6% of its equities and fixed-income staff respectively.

“I’ve been getting a lot more calls and emails from investment bankers at Deutsche. IBD is a small team here and almost everyone is on the lookout,” says another Singapore headhunter. “Several junior bankers have already chosen to leave. They haven’t been replaced, which doesn’t exactly instil confidence in the remaining analysts and associates, who are now also complaining to me about increased workloads.”

“The wider problems with Deutsche’s business weren’t the only reason I left, but they were a big factor,” says a former junior Deutsche staff member in Singapore, who took a buy-side job earlier this year. “Deutsche’s ongoing restructuring takes employees’ attention away from productive work. Some people in Singapore have become even more worried since Sewing came on board,” she adds.

Moving to the buy-side is a common aspiration for junior Deutsche Bankers in Singapore, says the second recruiter. “Or they’re asking about in-house corporate development jobs. Fortunately, coming from Deutsche is still viewed favourably and the outlook for young bankers isn’t bad. The seniors have far fewer jobs options in Singapore.”

In contrast to their fretful CIB colleagues, Deutsche’s private bankers have widely welcomed Sewing’s appointment and are unlikely to be affected by the job cuts sweeping other parts of the firm. Deutsche Bank Wealth Management increased its headcount of Asian relationship managers by 50 last year and this expansionist strategy is expected to continue under the new CEO. “We’re not getting calls from DB private bankers – they’re in a good place,” says the second recruiter.

Image credit: davidf, Getty

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