Tech exits from Deutsche Bank's algo trading team threaten equities recovery

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It's not just financial institutions group (FIG) bankers, U.S. risk and regulation specialists, and senior equity researchers who are leaving Deutsche Bank. It transpires that it's also the sort of senior technologists who are supposed to be preparing the bank for the future.

Deutsche insiders say that Florian Miciu, Deutsche Bank's EMEA head of equities product development resigned around a month ago. Miciu's exit follows that of Taras Bondar, the co-head of equities algo quants at Deutsche Bank in London, whose departure we were first to report in May. Bondar is understood to have joined Exane as of today, where he will be building out an algo execution development team in London.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Miciu and Bondar's exits and neither man responded to an invitation to discuss their departures. Insiders say Deutsche's equities product development team is demoralized. This is partly the result of a hiring freeze and partly because staff who thought they'd be busy building a business are instead occupied with putting together internal presentations and P&L sheets outlining their strategy to senior executives. "It's just really boring work," says one.

Deutsche Bank's global equities business is led by Peter Selman, a former Goldman Sachs partner who took the role in December 2017.  Equities revenues at Deutsche Bank were down 15% year-on-year in the first half of 2017 as the German bank sharply reduced its presence in U.S. equities as part of its strategy for cutting costs to €23bn and focusing on core areas. In the circumstances, Miciu and Bondar's voluntary exits might be seen as fortuitous and a means of cost cutting - except that most banks are currently focused on adding electronic trading expertise rather than letting people go.

Miciu's tenure at Deutsche Bank was surprisingly short. He joined the bank in London in January 2018 after nearly five years as a senior technologist at Tradeweb in New York City. Bondar was a Deutsche Bank veteran who joined the bank nearly 17 years ago.

While Deutsche's equities algo team is looking shaky, insiders say its FX algo team has been stocking up on developers from Bloomberg. Similarly, Deutsche Bank's strats team is said to have stabilized despite the departure of founder Sam Wisnia for a hedge fund in March 2018. The 'Kannon' risk and pricing engine built by DB's strats is understood to be fully functional and working to plan.

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