Well, folks, Deutsche Bank sure has had its hands full this past Wednesday. The heavyweight German bank reported a 27% tumble in profits for the second quarter, thanks to a pretty hefty slump in investment banking revenue. To add to the bank’s list of woes, it seems some cost-cutting measures might be on the cards. Interestingly though, the bank’s retail division got a decent boost from higher interest rates.
Deutsche Bank’s heads were left scratching after downgrading their investment bank’s revenue predictions for 2023. Earlier, they had forecasted a no-change scenario. However, they’re still hanging on to a silver lining, expecting a slight uptick in the overall bank’s revenue for the full year.
These figures tell a story that’s echoing across the world of global banking. Investment banks are finding themselves in a tight spot, with deals on pause, while other divisions are riding high on the wave of increased interest rates.
Even the American banking behemoths this month were left with a rather bitter taste in their mouths after their second-quarter investment banking results failed to impress. On the flip side, investors are placing their bets on a resurgence in deal-making and initial public offerings as the stock market attempts to shake off the dust.
Deutsche Bank’s CEO, Christian Sewing, sent a memo to his troops indicating that they’ll have to roll up their sleeves and make some “tough decisions” about costs. He explained, “We are operating in an environment with significantly rising prices, which is another reason why we must maintain rigid discipline when it comes to our costs.”
Back in April, Deutsche announced some harsh moves, planning to ax around 800 roles, mostly those that weren’t client-facing. Add to this, they’re eyeing a plan to eliminate a chunky 10% of their 17,000 retail jobs in Germany in the coming years.
Despite all these measures, the bank’s non-operating costs surged in the quarter, largely due to an increase in litigation and severance charges. On the bright side, the retail division turned out to be the star performer for the quarter and is poised to leapfrog the investment bank in terms of annual revenue, a first in the past three years.
On a more positive note, Deutsche Bank’s investment banking revenue slipped only 11% during the quarter, rather than the dreaded 16% drop. What’s more, they enjoyed a 25% rise in revenues at the corporate bank, which exceeded expectations, and the retail division’s 11% increase was right on target.
Deutsche Bank (ETR:DBKGn) decided in 2019 to shake things up a bit by reducing its dependence on its unpredictable investment bank. Instead, it planned to lean on more stable businesses that cater to companies and retail customers, aiming to put its profitability back on track.
The bank’s CFO, James von Moltke, claimed this shift to the retail bank as the main moneymaker was “significant”. Apparently, the bank’s image had been overshadowed by the investment bank for years, and now Deutsche is finally getting its balance right.
Shareholders had a bitter-sweet moment as net profits dropped to 763 million euros, a dip from last year’s 1.046 billion euros. The silver lining, though, was that this figure outdid analysts’ forecasts of around 571 million euros. Another blow came as provisions for bad loans almost doubled to 401 million euros, a sign of a wobbly economy in some sectors.
Regardless of the profit drop, the bank did manage to keep its 12th straight quarter of profit, a promising streak after years in the red. Deutsche even announced a 450 million euros share buyback for this year, a nice increase from last year’s 300 million.
But the road ahead isn’t without its potholes. Deutsche, ranked as one of the globe’s most systematically important banks, is facing threats from a decelerating economy, rampant inflation, and a whole host of regulatory issues that have dogged it for years.
Just last week, the U.S. Federal Reserve slapped Deutsche and its U.S. affiliates with a whopping $186 million fine. The charge? Failing to adequately address money laundering control issues and other deficiencies previously flagged by the U.S. central bank.
These penalties, along with a $75 million settlement with victims of Jeffrey Epstein who accused the bank of aiding the late financier’s sex trafficking, contributed to higher litigation costs.
As the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” But we’re all watching to see if Deutsche can weather the storm. Let’s hope the bank can turn the tide and keep its ship afloat. After all, every cloud has a silver lining, right?