On the same day as Deutsche announced a hefty quarterly loss of €3.1 billion, former employee Sajid Javid was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK
The lesson for the 18,000 Deutsche staff who are expected to lose their jobs in the current restructuring may be that some creative rewriting of their employment history is in order.
Erstwhile colleagues of Javid have noted before how he repositioned himself as a conventional investment banker, rather than highlighting his main role at Deutsche as a credit derivatives structurer with a senior role in a group that developed a reputation for controversial deal-making.
Javid is careful in his current government profile to avoid any demonstrable inaccuracies. He is too sharp to fall into the same trap as fellow minister Andrea Leadsom (the new UK business secretary), who was forced to “revise” her CV while making an ill-starred bid for the Conservative Party leadership in 2016, after she was accused of exaggerating her roles at Barclays and Invesco.
Colleagues of Javid have noted how he repositioned himself as a conventional investment banker, rather than highlighting his main role at Deutsche as a credit derivatives structurer with a senior role in a group that developed a reputation for controversial deal-making
Javid takes the opposite approach, downplaying his involvement in the grittier end of financial services. His biography notes that he was a youthful vice-president at Chase Manhattan and “later moved to Deutsche Bank in London to help build its business in emerging market countries”.
That is technically true, although it also sounds like his goal may have been helping out the inhabitants of the emerging market countries. In fact he was head of global credit trading for Asia and of emerging market structuring, where he helped to put together deals including a CDO that prompted a lawsuit accusing Deutsche of stuffing the trade with ineligible loans.
“Sajid left Deutsche Bank as a senior managing director in the summer of 2009 to give something back through politics,” his government bio says. History will decide what he gives back in his current role as chancellor, but he certainly timed his exit from banking well.
Javid’s knack for knowing when to head for the door was shared by his former credit trading group boss, Rajeev Misra, who left Deutsche in 2008, a few months before the failure of Lehman Brothers and the onset of the global financial crisis.
Misra is now head of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, which is the largest technology investor in the world and a big source of fees for financiers who are stuck working at investment banks.
Colin Fan, a one-time credit structuring colleague of Javid’s who later became co-head of investment banking at Deutsche, is also working with Misra at Softbank, along with a string of other veterans of the bank.
Misra is even trying to help out his old friend Anshu Jain, who ran the global markets group at Deutsche in its bonus-paying glory days, before a less successful period as co-chief executive of the bank.
Jain now has an unlikely role as president of Cantor Fitzgerald, which is best known as a bond broker. Cantor is reportedly helping SoftBank to find investors for the coming launch of a second Vision Fund, however, which will raise its profile in non-broking activities and might well be rewarded with a slot on any IPO of the original Vision Fund.
Some Deutsche alumni are not faring as well. One-time star trader Christian Bittar – who was described by Jain as a “guaranteed money-maker” when he tried to secure him a €100 million bonus for 2008 – is now in jail, after being convicted of rigging Libor and Euribor fixings. And former global head of rates Michele Faissola still faces legal charges in Italy over derivatives trades, although he seems to be prospering otherwise.
But Deutsche staff joining the current vintage of former employees will surely take a cue from Javid’s new boss, prime minister Boris Johnson, and look towards the broad sunlit uplands of life after banking.
[Note: the author served a stint at Deutsche in 2008/09]