Bonus Watch '19: Deutsche Bank Unsubtly Telling Deutsche Bankers That Their Enmity Is Mutual

We're no math geniuses, but can Deutsche Bank cut bonuses back from nothing?

The power dynamic amongst the biggest financial services firms has shifted dramatically in recent years, yet one bank has managed to hold on to the top of one particular league table with breathtaking consistency: Deutsche Bank still reigns supreme when it comes to being the worst at talent retention.


In 2017, Deutsche punished staffers for mistakes made almost a decade earlier by eschewing bonuses almost entirely to pay a mindboggling amount of fines. And last year's bonus pool was pathetically shallow as well after Deutsche forgot those promises it stupidly made and joined in on the fad of using corporate tax savings to do share buybacks instead of paying it out in bonuses. So after two straight years of a deteriorating corporate ethos and a talent exodus unrivaled in finance, has Deutsche Bank learned its lesson about buying carrots instead of just using a stick?

Deutsche Bank AG’s management board has decided to cut the bonus pool by around 10 percent compared with 2017 as the German lender tries to juggle cost pressures with concerns of a talent drain, according to people familiar with the matter.

Oh, Deutsche...

Bonuses will be paid more selectively in an attempt to keep its top earners, the people said, declining to be identified as the decision hasn’t been made public. A decision on the final figure could change, depending on the bank’s fourth quarter numbers, they said.

So based on Deutsche's Q4 18 numbers - which will be impacted by yet another regulatory crisis, plunging share price and growing rumors of a forced merger - top performers at the bank might get a little bump in their bonus checks. That's a fun game when you consider that "Top performer at Deutsche Bank" translates from the German as "Unindicted." Why is Deutsche playing with fire, risking losing the few people who haven't already fled the sinking bank?

Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing is seeking to slash costs while holding on to key staff that generate revenue for the troubled firm. 

Ah, we get it now! Sewing is using another deeply shitty bonus season to save on severance packages. After all, if people quit in fury after being screwed on their bonuses, you don't have to pay them to go away. That's some German engineering right there, folks.

Deutsche Bank to Cut Bonus Pool by About 10% for 2018 [Bloomberg]