Why vice president looks like the safest job at Deutsche Bank

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Deutsche Bank's 2019 job cuts seem a world away now, having taken place before COVID-19 and before last night's scenes on Capitol Hill, but 18 months after the event, there are still new things to be learned. 

Last month, Deutsche Bank released the 2019 annual report for DB Group Services (UK) Limited, the Deutsche Bank subsidiary which covers the German bank's activities in the UK. As we've noted before, the report is interesting because it includes a breakdown of precisely how many people Deutsche Bank employs at each level of its London hierarchy.

The results for 2019 are shown in the chart below, alongside the previous year.

As the chart shows, Deutsche Bank cut London headcount by 5%, or 392 people in the year ending December 2019. The most aggressive cuts were at the managing director (MD) level, where 13% of staff disappeared. However, DB also cut 12% of its analyst and associate-level staff in London.

By comparison, the safest jobs during the great purge of Deutsche Bank were at the vice president (VP) level, where a mere 2% of staff disappeared in 2019.

The comparative security of DB's VP jobs comes after some Deutsche associates complained about the length of time it takes for them to become VPs. - "At Deutsche we now have to wait 6.75 years to become a vice president," complained one New York-based associate in November. "That's the longest of any other bank, plus we get our bonuses paid in March - 12 weeks after the year-end, which is also the longest time to payout of any other bank."

Deutsche Bank has theoretically finished making front office job cuts in its investment bank and is now focused on growth and trimming the middle and back office. Even so, the accounts for DB Group Services suggest there could be an advantage to hanging on until you become a front office VP at Deutsche: your job should be safe for a few years at least.

It's notable that even after trimming some managing directors, Deutsche still has more MDs than analysts in London. This is not usually how hierarchies work.

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