Everyone’s a tech company now – including struggling Deutsche Bank

Written as editor of the New Statesman’s NS Tech and first published here.

The chief exec of Germany’s biggest lender Deutsche Bank has warned in an open letter to staff that they must start thinking more like tech workers – or risk failure.

The bank lost €6.8bn in 2015 and faces a significant year of restructuring, so far marked by the sales of its Argentinian subsidiary and German retail bank Postbank.

But this year of change also sees the opening of a new data analytics centre in Dublin, along with a “digital factory” due to open its doors in Frankfurt-Sossenheim this month.

While staying positive about future projects that might rescue the bank from trouble, Cryan tried to scotch rumours that it plans to sell off Deutsche Asset Management as part of the restructure.

“Our work is not just about pursuing restructuring,” British-born CEO John Cryan said.

“We must also change how we work in the future. Too often I see in my own daily routine that too many different people are busy doing the same work as each other. Sometimes there are valid reasons for this. But often a particularly cautious approach or a hierarchical mindset gets in our way instead of making us better and safer.”

Just as the company’s Chief Risk Officer Stuart Lewis said recently that everyone working at the bank is a risk manager, they must all also be thinking entrepreneurs.

“Trust yourself to make decisions instead of waiting for an instruction from above. I encourage our managers to support this kind of self-reliance. This mindset is also necessary if we want to see ourselves increasingly as a technology company. We should be more daring and think a bit more like entrepreneurs.

“This does not just apply to the Management Board. Entrepreneurial initiative arises wherever business is done. You are best placed to see what could be changed and what could be improved. Often it is the small steps that bring us farthest forward.”

Deutsche Bank will be wooing the likes of Microsoft and Salesforce at its own Technology Conference next week.

And it’s no surprise why, big banks, most notably Goldman Sachs, have admitted they’re struggling to hire digital people because of negative perceptions about what their company does.

Cryan attempted to rally the troops with his final lines:

“Ask yourself where you – where we – can demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit. Astonishing yourself is what makes life worth living, as Dublin-born Oscar Wilde once wrote.”

Via The Telegraph

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