Martin Zielke

Taming the Forces of Upheaval

Martin Zielke
No longer flirty, but disruptive. Source: Bert Bostelmann / bildfolio for Handelsblatt

For Martin Zielke, online and analog both have their place in the world. Commerzbank’s boss is embracing digitization of the bank’s processes, while maintaining its extensive branch network. To drive this point home, Mr. Zielke wore two timepieces during his Handelsblatt interview: a mechanical wristwatch on one arm, and a digital fitness wristband on the other. Truth be told, Mr. Zielke has precious little time for jogging, as the bank is undergoing a massive restructuring that has rocked its bottom line. In the second quarter of 2017, Commerzbank posted a gaping loss of €637 million.

 

Handelsblatt: Martin Zielke, it’s been 10 years since the financial crisis began. How stable is the banking system today?

Martin Zielke: I find it hard to gauge it in absolute terms. But at Commerzbank we’ve drawn the right conclusions from the crisis and are now fully functional again. We want to make the bank simpler and better, and focus on our strengths.

Does that mean: we’ve put the crisis behind us, and everything is fine in the banking world?

I didn’t say that. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s that the cause of the next crisis will be different from the last time. Of course there may again be negative developments. But we are better prepared.

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