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Carnage coming to Deutsche Bank's Institutional Clients Group?

Deutsche Bank is making 9,000 redundancies. Don't worry: they're nothing new: the layoffs are all part of CEO John Cryan's "Strategy 2020", announced October 2015, but by various accounts they're coming soon to Deutsche's comparatively untouched Institutional Clients Group (ICG).

For those unfamiliar with Deutsche Bank internal nomenclature, ICG is the group responsible for delivering the bank's fixed income products to its corporate and institutional clients. It's been in existence for over a decade, but is seemingly about to undergo the kind of shake-up more familiar to fixed income professionals at UBS.

Following last week's clear-out of the senior equities ranks at Deutsche Bank, insiders say the employees next in line for layoffs are the fixed income sales staff within ICG. Around 17% are expected to go - up to 200 people, starting from the middle of next week.

Deutsche is declining to comment on the claims. If true, the alleged cuts would follow an 11% reduction in Deutsche Bank's fixed income revenues last year and the axing of around half of Deutsche's clients since 2015. Generalist salespeople are expected to be the most affected: under its new business model, insiders say Deutsche is prioritising specialist fixed income salespeople for whom 75%-80% of production comes from a particular product. "This is a mistake," says one DB salesperson. "Some of the generalists are the huge producers."

Some headhunters say Deutsche's cuts are long overdue. The bank has been slow to cut headcount in its fixed income division and is held to be over-staffed. There are also claims that Deutsche's fixed income sales staff had too much power historically. "The old Deutsche Bank model was to provide a lot of liquidity," says one headhunter. "Deutsche's salespeople won clients because they could provide that liquidity and Deutsche would hold a lot of play in the game. Under the new model, Deutsche has reined in its salespeople and won't give them liquidity unless the bank makes money off it. That's absolutely how it should be."

The man behind the new model, and purported instigator of any coming ICG clear-out is said to be Sam Wisnia, the man Deutsche hired from Goldman Sachs in 2014. Wisnia is implementing a new risk pricing and analytics platform similar to SecDB at Goldman Sachs. Cryan praised the platform during the bank's fourth quarter results call, saying it had made the bank "incredibly more efficient," and was a, "big cost saver."

It's unclear what will happen to Dixit Joshi, head of the ICG group, in the purported changes; rumour has it he may move into a treasury role. 

Not everyone is enamoured of the direction Deutsche's fixed income sales and trading business is taking under Wisnia, particularly after the bank failed to benefit from last year's fixed income sales and trading boom (something it attributed to the uncertainty surrounding the DOJ fine from September). "Under Wisnia's model, salespeople at Deutsche are being marginalized," says one headhunter. "That's a problem for a bank that needs to position itself as a client-focused market maker."


Photo credit: Deutsche Bank | London Wall by Justin Pickard is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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