Deutsche Bank's compliance staff are now very confused about their jobs

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Yesterday's speech from Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing has, unsurprisingly, caused some consternation in the German bank's compliance department.

Sewing informed attendees at Deutsche's AGM that the bank now plans to, "combine parts of our compliance area and our anti-financial crime unit with non-financial risk management." This way, Sewing said DB will, "cut out duplication, save costs substantially and simultaneously improve controls." 

While this sounds like a plan, it seemingly came as a surprise to people in Deutsche Bank's compliance team, for whom the first they heard of Sewing's intentions was a cautious joint email yesterday from global head of compliance Pamela Root and head of anti-financial crime and money laundering Stephan Wilken.

Curiously, Root and Wilken's email seemed a lot less definitive than Sewing's announcement of "substantial" cost savings.

"The management board today felt that sufficient progress has been made for us to publicly reference collaboration," said Wilken and Root in the email, referencing links between the bank's regulation, compliance and anti-crime unit, and its non-financial risk team.

These functions will now "evolve," said Wilken and Root, adding that the bank will look for, "further opportunities for collaboration and partnership in areas where we see duplication." While Sewing saw opportunities for "substantial" savings, however, Wilken and Root stressed that nothing drastic will happen and that "opportunities will be carefully analyzed before any decisions are taken."

For the moment, they said DB's compliance and anti-financial crime staff just need to focus on their "day to day responsibilities."

Deutsche Bank declined to comment. With the threat of big cuts coming, focusing on day to day responsibilities may not be so easy for the bank's compliance professionals. "This has taken everyone by surprise really," says one insider, who said that after Wilken and Root's email, it's not clear whether DB plans to make big cuts in compliance and financial crime or not.

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