John Cryan is nothing if not realistic when it comes to Deutsche Bank’s problems. The British-born banker’s penchant for offering downcast portrayals of the bank is well-known, seen as refreshing by some and depressing by others.
Given that track record, it’s perhaps a small wonder he chose his one-year anniversary at the helm of Germany’s largest bank to release a sobering survey of the bank’s employees.
The survey, revealed Friday, finds that most employees are not proud to work there. Even more sobering for Mr. Cryan, they’re more pessimistic than they were a year earlier.
“Compared with a year ago, still fewer of you feel committed to Deutsche Bank, and just under half of you are proud to be working here,” Mr. Cryan and Karl von Rohr, the bank’s chief administrative officer, wrote in a statement posted on the Deutsche Bank’s website.
Mr. Cryan and Mr. von Rohr said the results were “unsatisfying, but they are not totally unexpected,” given the many challenges Deutsche Bank faced in the past year.
On the face of it, Mr. Cryan’s first year hasn’t gone well. The bank’s share price has fallen more than 50 percent since he began. It fell to another record low of €12.04 this week. The share price had risen again slightly Friday, up 2 percent to €12.59 at 4:45 pm in Frankfurt.
“Compared with a year ago, still fewer of you feel committed to Deutsche Bank, and just under half of you are proud to be working here,”
The investor malaise has been fed by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and overall anxiety in Europe’s struggling banking sector, but it’s also been the result of a series of home-grown challenges.
The bank’s self-imposed challenges are many: Mr. Cryan has launched an overhaul of Deutsche’s operations, cutting back on loss-making businesses, exiting unprofitable countries and firing about a tenth of the workforce. He has also vowed to settle hundreds of lawsuits and regulatory investigations that have dogged the firm since the 2008 financial crisis.
Mr. Cryan promises the restructuring will start to reap dividends in 2018. Until then, he’s well aware it’s going to be a rough ride.
“We realize that the ongoing transformation of our businesses, and the resulting job cuts, are causing a lot of concern and uncertainty,” Mr. Cryan and Mr. von Rohr said. “We continue to work to provide clarity for all impacted employees so people know as soon as possible what this means for them.”
Mr. Cryan also acknowledged that the bank’s internal processes still needed to be reformed. The survey found that about one third of the bank’s employees “experience significant barriers to doing their job well.” The problems included confusing internal processes, slow decision-making from above and poor cooperation, he said.
But Mr. Cryan also pointed to positives in the survey. Efforts to change the bank’s culture have been reaping rewards, he said. “About 60 percent of those surveyed “now observe changes in behavior,” he said. “We are pleased about this progress, which means that change is becoming tangible.”
That’s a promising sign for a bank that has watched its reputation suffer tremendously in the past few years as wrongdoing by traders led to more than €10 billion in fines from regulators.
On his first day in charge last year, Mr. Cryan had some sobering words for his employees. Back then his warning read: “I won’t tell you that everything will be harmonious and without problems in the coming months.”
One year later, Friday’s letter ended on a very similar note, highlighting the bank’s ongoing challenges.
“The next few months won’t be easy,” Mr. Cryan and Mr. von Rohr wrote. “Step by step, we will create a better working environment, and a better Deutsche Bank.”
Christopher Cermak covers finance and economics for Handelsblatt Global Edition in Berlin. To contact the author: email@example.com