Cryan's Gloomy Jobs Outlook Sees Deutsche Bank Eyeing the Swiss

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Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Officer John Cryan is looking to technology to dramatically reduce headcount as he eyes leaner rivals across the border in Switzerland.

“We employ 97,000 people,” Cryan told the Financial Times in an interview published Wednesday. “Most big peers have more like half that number.”

Cryan was probably referring to Swiss competitors UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse AG, which have both far fewer employees and higher market values, after embarking on a drive to focus on wealth management. By contrast, Deutsche Bank decided to integrate German retail subsidiary Postbank instead of selling it, meaning most of its roughly 18,000 employees will now remain with the company.

A Postbank spin-off had been a cornerstone of Cryan’s previous job-cutting plan. The bank is still sticking to its 2015 target of cutting about 9,000 jobs by 2020. Now many reductions will depend on efficiency gained through technology, he told the Financial Times.

“There we’ve got the most to gain,” he said. “We’re too manual, which can make you error-prone and it makes you inefficient. There’s a lot of machine-learning and mechanization that we can do.”

Although Cryan has said that the Postbank integration will lead to additional job redundancies, he has yet to disclose a target after eight months and negotiations with employee representatives have only recently begun. The bank has also committed not to force out any workers in the retail unit before the middle of 2021.

Closing Branches

Closing retail branches as customers increasingly bank through the Internet and potentially collaborating with other banks in the area of crime prevention and detection are other moves that could help cut headcount, Cryan told the Financial Times.

Many bank employees “spend a lot of time just basically being an abacus,” Cryan said in September. Asked whether automation and robots could make about half the workforce in the banking industry redundant, his response was “I guess.”

UBS Group AG could employ around 30 percent fewer people in a decade as technological advances change banking, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti said in an interview last month in Bloomberg Markets. UBS, where Cryan served as CFO from 2008 to 2012, had 61,000 employees at the end of the third quarter and Credit Suisse had 47,000.

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