Deutsche Bank employees around the world were sent home shortly after arriving on Monday as the lender began implementing a plan to slash 18,000 jobs and drastically cut down its investment banking division.
Some bankers at Deutsche’s offices in the City of London decided against coming in at all after being told their passes would stop working at 11am, the BBC reported.
Many worry about their future as the industry goes through upheavals. “The equities market is not that great so I may not find a similar job, but I have to deal with it,” said another Deutsche leaver.
In the long shadow of the financial crash and a series of scandals, finance professionals, particularly investment bankers, have not drawn much sympathy over the past decade.
Deutsche’s own reputation has been marred by the actions of a relatively small number of its 91,000 staff, resulting in billions of euros in fines for Libor interest rate rigging, for violating sanctions against Iran and Syria, selling toxic assets and hiring a detective agency to spy on people it considered a threat, including a journalist.
Many of the people Deutsche Bank has made redundant are in its equities division – the part that buys and sells shares. This riskier part of the business is facing increased costs from new European regulations on share trading while the sector as a whole is dealing with upheavals emanating from Brexit.
But many of those whose jobs will go are not investment bankers and some may find it difficult to find new work in a market with lots of candidates going for few jobs.
London has witnessed a 50 per cent drop in the number of financial services jobs available over the past year, according to research published on Monday by recruiter Morgan McKinley.
“The City always bounces back from downturns, and it is chomping at the bit to bounce back from Brexit, but the farther we go down this hole, the harder the climb back up will be,” said Hakan Enver, managing director at Morgan McKinley UK.
City institutions have already shifted $1 trillion of assets out of the UK and into other European hubs, along with 7,000 jobs, a figure that EY warned is likely to be a significant underestimate.
Some of Deutsche’s redundant staff may be given a financial cushion as part of the process, said Julian Cox, head of employment at law firm, iLaw.
“With the loss of so many jobs, it is likely that the affected employees are going to be subject to collective and individual consultation in the coming days,” he said.
“City institutions, such as Deutsche Bank, have tended to handle redundancies and restructuring by offering financial settlement packages under the auspices of a settlement agreement.
“These agreements are usually put in place for senior executives to prevent the cost and reputational damages of potential claims at tribunal, such as unfair dismissal arising out of the redundancy exercise.
Deutsche would not say how the cuts would be distributed, though large reductions in headcount are expected in London, home to 8,000 staff and the firm’s largest trading operation.
It’s part of a huge drive to slash costs and retreat from Deutsche’s long-held ambition to compete with the biggest US investment banks.
A Deutsche Bank spokesperson said: “We have decided to focus our resources on businesses where clients need us most.
“We are setting up a dedicated corporate bank specialising in the financing and treasury products the world’s companies need to support trade and investment around the globe.
“Deutsche Bank will remain an international bank. That’s what our clients need.”