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John Cryan recasts Deutsche’s stubbornly high costs as investments

Deutsche’s CEO is telling the world just how much the bank still needs to do to improve, but struggles to make investors see the cost of fixing things as investing for the future.

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If Jamie Dimon is at one end of a spectrum for bombastic bank CEOs, Deutsche Bank’s John Cryan is at the other, beyond even such understated figures as UniCredit’s Jean Pierre Mustier.

Cryan was on characteristic form on Friday as he presented his bank’s annual results – a loss of €500 million, compared with JPMorgan’s $24.4 million net profit – with his typical bedside manner, a smooth but unvarnished description of the condition of his patient, the variously ailing Deutsche Bank.

Cryan can’t brag, which puts him in a small club among bank CEOs. Even praise comes out sounding sheepish. Telling the world that Deutsche Bank is number three in fixed income sales and trading, he can’t stop himself adding that “we’re not number three by very much” – and he doesn’t mean Deutsche is nearly number two.

With M&A it’s the same – almost an accident if things go well. Deutsche was number three globally in announced M&A in the fourth quarter. Was it luck? It sounds like it might have been. It has never been a particularly strong business for Deutsche, Cryan tells us. “We happen to be in three of the five really big M&A deals…”

Regulatory settlements were better than expected, largely down to cooperation discounts granted by regulators.

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