The art of becoming a managing director at Deutsche Bank

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So you want to become a managing director at Deutsche Bank? Good for you. Yes, the German bank's share price has fallen 9% in the past week. Yes, DB has not ruled out further large cuts to its investment bank.  Yes, some people have gone already and the redundancy payments aren't said to be great.  But hey! - Deutsche Bank is paying biggish bonuses on top of its big salaries. Deutsche is also hiring (often from Goldman Sachs). And it's promoting (to managing director).

Financial News reports that DB has promoted 10 people to MD in London in its latest promotion round. They are: Ruth McMaster, (Global Head of Client Assets & CIB Operations Risk), John O'Connell (European head of ABS sales), David Joughin (EMEA head of repo), David Ibáñez (a TMT banker), Reinhard Kuehn (an automotive and capital goods banker), Vanessa La Santa (head of markets compliance Emea), Antti Kari (equity derivative sales for Nordic clients), Ross Dungan (global head of listed derivatives operations), Tom Adlard (equity structuring and quantitative investment solutions), Pippa Newbold (FX and derivatives technology), Brett Hames (head of business and client intelligence unit, anti-financial crime), Alison Pain (Global Head of Workplace Communications) and... Michael Zolotas (head of shipping and logistics investment banking).

An eleventh promotion (omitted from Financial News' list) is Tim Carey, a tech professional and head of global markets production at DB.

Our own analysis of the career paths of Deutsche's shiny new MDs suggest there are two main routes to the top at DB: either you join as a director from a rival firm, or you work your way up at Deutsche.

Of this year's promotions, around 50% are director joiners and 50% are DB lifers. Of the director joiners, the most speedy transition to MD was made by David Ibáñez, who came from Goldman in 2016; the least speedy was made by Vanessa La Santa, who joined in 2008 from trading company Bear Hunter Structured Products. By comparison, the DB lifers typically took 14 years (Reinhard Kuehn and Michael Zolotas) to get to the top.

Deutsche insiders said the bank's method of selecting its managing directors had made great strides since 2014 when it was based upon a highly political process involving, "lots of excel spreadsheets" and, "panels of MDs" who interviewed potential MDs and then referred them to a big committee.

Nowadays, Deutsche selects its MDs in a manner more akin to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, says one senior insider. "There's a complicated matrix of regional, product and role and the global global heads of the businesses have to work with the local heads to force rank everyone within that region," he tells us. "Each region gets an allocation of promotions and the global heads can swap out a promotion in London with a promotion in Asia for example."

The big committee still exists, however. "It's made up for all the senior corporate and investment bank managing directors," says the DB insider. "Everyone is scored and discussed in mid to late autumn at promotion round tables."

Like other banks, insiders say DB suffers two problems at promotion time. Firstly, it has too many expensive senior staff already. Secondly, mid-ranking staff need to be kept happy with bigger titles.

"It's been such a hard five years at Deutsche that MD titles are given away just to persuade people to join and stay," says one DB markets professional. "In some cases the pyramid is deeply inverted," he adds.

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