Summoned by HR to be handed a Deutsche Bank envelope, many of its staff across the world then left their desks for the last time on Monday, shown the door by their German employer within hours of a restructuring announcement. Deutsche Bank confirmed on Sunday that it was closing huge parts of its trading businesses, with staff in its equities division in Sydney and Hong Kong among the first to be told their roles would go.
“If you have a job for me, please let me know,” said a banker leaving the Hong Kong office on Monday. Staff leaving in Hong Kong were holding envelopes with the bank’s logo. Three employees took a picture of themselves beside a Deutsche Bank sign outside, hugged and then hailed a taxi. “They give you this packet and you are out of the building,” said one equities trader. “The equities market is not that great so I may not find a similar job, but I have to deal with it,” said another. At the bank’s Wall Street office, staff impacted by the cuts were summoned to the cafeteria to learn of their fate.
A notice inside the building’s lobby told staff the cafeteria would be closed until 11.30 a.m. EST. Hundreds of staff were informed during the meetings that their positions were being cut, sources within the bank told Reuters. They also received details of their redundancy packages. One source said staff could be seen saying their goodbyes to colleagues upon leaving the cafeteria. Speaking outside the bank’s office, one employee told Reuters the cuts had been anticipated for weeks.
“People have been planning their next moves but it’s a tough market,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another employee, who asked not to be named, said the bank held a short meeting in its auditorium at 9.30 a.m. EST to inform staff of the cutbacks. He said he was later handed an envelope informing him of his redundancy.
The staffer said he and his colleagues had known the impending cuts were likely for the past couple of weeks. Deutsche Bank plans to close all of its equity trading business and cut some parts of its fixed income operations, in an overhaul expected to lead to 18,000 job cuts. Some of those roles will be cut immediately, while some staff will be kept on for longer while they help wind down operations. A few hours after the Hong Kong staff left, workers were seen leaving Deutsche Bank’s office in the City of London, which along with New York is expected to bear the brunt of the cuts, carrying similar envelopes.
“I was terminated this morning, there was a very quick meeting and that was it,” said one IT worker, who left while Deutsche Bank chief executive Christian Sewing was inside the building doing a call with the media. Few staff wanted to speak outside the bank’s London office, but trade was picking up at the nearby Balls Brothers pub around lunchtime. “I got laid off, where else would I go,” said a man who had just lost his job in equity sales.
The layoffs were going beyond the major financial centres. A Deutsche Bank employee in Bengaluru told Reuters that he and several colleagues were told first thing that their jobs were going. “We were informed that our jobs have become redundant and handed over our letters and given approximately a month’s salary,” he said.
“The mood is pretty hopeless right now, especially (among)people who are single-earners or have big financial burdens such as loans to pay,” he added. Deutsche spokespeople in Hong Kong and London declined to comment on specific details about the number of departures, but said they would try to support people being made redundant. For those losing their jobs in equities, finding a new one could prove difficult, with the industry still grappling with higher costs from new European regulations on share trading.
“The job market in equities is going to be very tough,” said George Kuznetsov head of research and analytics at Coalition, which analyses the investment banking industry. “Our expectations if for equities sales and trading revenues falling 7-8% this year and that of course is going to put a lot of halts into the hiring across most of the brokers”. For Deutsche Bank staff whose jobs are safe for now, there was some relief, but also big doubts about the future.
“The biggest question for us is where do we go from here if we don’t offer the whole suite of products? Will clients stick with us or is the game over?” said a Singapore banker who remains in his job.