As Deutsche Bank continues with the biggest blood-letting on Wall Street since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, managers are reportedly planning to move thousands of Manhattan-based associates, often those with the most important front-office-type jobs in sales and trading.
Ever since DB moved to expand its presence in the Americas during the late 1990s-2000s, thousands of young employees, from interns to first-year analysts, have flocked to places like Murray Hill and other parts of Manhattan to work at the city’s investment banks, and generally live the young banker lifestyle of late nights out at bars on the lower east side and hooking up with wannabe model types at the clubs and bars that dot (or rather, once dotted) the East Village and the LES.
In the post-COVID era, many of these analysts might be sent to other more cost-effective parts of the country where Deutsche Bank already has a “presence”, according to DB Americas CEO Christiana Riley, one of the highest-ranking women on Wall Street.
Riley told the FT that the NY head count could “conceivably” be cut in half in 5 years (a pretty aggressive time table). The bank currently has roughly 4,600 staff in Manhattan, which means some 2,300 could soon be reporting to DB’s offices in Jacksonville Fla., long considered a dumping ground, where the bank houses its compliance department. According to media reports, the bank’s compliance workers in the city have long been treated “lower than janitors” by a bank that’s become almost synonymous with criminal malfeasance (an impression that has only been strengthened, as unfortunate or undeserved as that might be, by the endless MSM reporting on the bank’s lending relationship with the Trumps.
The FT specifically cites the Jacksonville office, along with another office in Cary, North Carolina, as likely destinations for these displaced workers. The British paper also noted that NYC has been losing financial services jobs to cities like Dallas and Tampa for years, but that the pandemic, with its radical experiment in remote work, will likely accelerate the process.
Florida seems to be a hot spot for financial workers, thanks to the warm climate and (more importantly) low taxes. Goldman Sachs is also reportedly moving its workers to the Sunshine State. And numerous hedge funds and family offices flock to the state for the tax advantages.
The cost cuts will help DB’s US investment bank hit its target for 11% return on equity by 2022, up from 9% projected this year. That 11% target was first unveiled during CEO Christian Sewing’s big cost-cutting initiative announced last summer in the wake of the bank’s failed tie up talks with Commerzbank. Sewing reiterated the target during the bank’s investor day a week ago.
Unfortunately, pretty soon, instead of spending summers, and then their first post-grad years, living it up in the big city “Young Money”-style, the bank’s incoming analysts will be kicking it in the Jacksonville swamp, a city that, despite its size, is probably best known as the hometown of rap-metal legends “Limp Bizkit”.
What’s the point of working all those 7-day, 100+ hour weeks if you can’t experience the thrill of being 23 and living in a flex double somewhere east of Lexington?