Remember: Deutsche Bank wants to cut 1,000 jobs a quarter

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Remember: Deutsche Bank wants to cut 1,000 jobs a quarter

Deutsche Bank has become something of a Janus when it comes to hiring and firing. On one hand, it's cutting 250 jobs in Ireland under the strategic plan it announced in mid-2019. On the other, it wants to let it be known that it's hiring and has recruited 30 senior executives across its investment bank in Europe and the U.S. so far in 2021. 

The German bank is able to maintain its contradictory position because the people it's hiring and the people it's firing are not the same. - Having cut 20% of the front office staff in its investment bank in 2019 when it closed its equities sales and trading business and rationalized M&A teams, Deutsche is now hiring again in the front office and firing still in the back and middle. And there are still plenty of back and middle office jobs to go.

Deutsche said in July 2019 that it wanted to cut 18,000 jobs. At the time it said this, the bank employed 90,886 people. At the end of the first quarter this year, it still employed 84,639. There appears to be 11,500 more jobs to go before the 18,000 target is met.

What has befallen DB's Irish staff could therefore soon befall other DB staff in predominantly middle and back office locations like Birmingham and Jacksonville. In his presentation at last year's December investor day, chief transformation officer Fabrizio Campelli said attention at the bank was shifting, "from cost reduction in the businesses to infrastructure." In May 2021, Deutsche CFO James von Moltke said the bank planned to reduce costs by, "interlocking more closely the back office of the corporate bank and the investment bank.”

By its own reckoning, Deutsche seems to have fallen behind its headcount target. Exactly one year ago, Von Moltke said the virus had caused a "hiatus" in the bank's planned job cuts, which were supposed to be taking place at, a "glide path" of "something like a thousand heads a quarter."

The plan was never to actually cut 18,000 people: some were supposed to disappear of their own accords by virtue of natural attrition and retirement, but too few people left during 2020, and Deutsche warned last year that it might need to remove people forcibly as a result.

The cuts in Ireland won't necessarily bring Deutsche closer to its 18,000 target. The bank says it's actually moving them “to other centers around the world." This too looks like a warning to Deutsche middle and back office staff in North America and Western Europe: Campelli said in December that Deutsche planned to assess "roles, locations and rates." The bank is committed to hiring 1,000 people in India. More jobs will need to go in other locations to accommodate that.

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