Handelsblatt Interview

Rise of the Robot Bankers

115908248 Cryan Handelsblatt Marc-Steffen Unger
Seeing the future at Deutsche Bank: CEO John Cryan. Source: Marc-Steffen Unger for Handelsblatt

Germany’s largest bank has already been through a painful period of restructuring these past few years. If that weren’t enough, Deutsche Bank Chief Executive John Cryan admits many of the jobs at his bank will be taken over by robots or other forms of automation in the next five years, with large scale job losses at the company, which employs 100,000 people worldwide.

Speaking in an interview at the Handelsblatt Banking Conference in Frankfurt, Mr Cryan declined to make an exact estimate of the how many employees would be shed. But it will be “a big number, definitely,” he said.

“The sad truth for the banking industry is, we won‘t need as many people as today,” Mr Cryan said. “In our bank, we have people doing work like robots. Tomorrow we will have robots behaving like people.”

Technology is reshaping the entire industry, he said, and that process is inevitable and will happen whether or not Deutsche Bank gets on board with the transformation. Many aspects of banking are being disintermediated by startup companies, such as payment apps, robo-investing advisors and digitization of loan processing, where humans no longer particpate in the decision process.

Mr. Cryan, a British citizen, took over as chief executive Deutsche Bank more than two years ago, taking on one of the toughest jobs in the financial industry in the process. While he speaks German, unlike some of his predecessors, he still prefers longer interviews in English. In a wide-ranging discussion, he also weighed in on the perils of loose monetary policy, the strength of the euro, and dealing with global political uncertainty.

Below is the full transcript of the interview, which was conducted in English. For a different perspective, check out our interview with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.