In an internal video that was leaked this May, Colin Fan, one of Deutsche Bank’s heads over their investment banking department, appears in the midst of an angry tantrum aimed at his underlings whom he scolds for reckless messaging that could potentially lead to massive lawsuits. A text-message to Colin’s wife reported the bad news of video’s leakage to the Financial Times this way: “OMG, Colin’s video has gone viral!”
It has been the subject of recent foreign-exchange-rate manipulation investigations and has let go six employees in connection with this scandal, though formal charges have not yet been filed by authorities. Colin Fan has been in DB since 1998, and he believes that the “vast majority” of DB employees are good eggs, but sometimes he just has to vent a little fury at those few, troublesome bad eggs that lurk among them.Colin’s video pushes him to the forefront of the effort to reassure the public that DB can be trusted, and his internal lectures and chats that have not gone so “viral” put him in a sort of “reformer” role on the inside. DB is even beginning to adjust bonus distribution so that honest trading counts along with profitable trading- a move that will be sure to both win friends and annoy enemies. Those who display the “new values” will stand to profit from it in bonuses and promotions- a powerful motivator in the banking industry.Rajeev Misra, Fan’s former boss, assures us that he is not so stern a character as the video would suggest and that his empathy has gained him the loyalty of co-workers. The new emphasis Fan has put on ethics, however, seems to be driving some driven solely by money away from DB. But Mr. Fan is glad to see go any who will not fit into the new environment, he tells us. But Mr. Fan must also work on the more profit-related part of his job as well, if he expects to remain in it long- such as returning DB to its former glory in the fixed income market. His challenge will be to steer the straight and narrow while still plying DB’s way to the top.
A final twist to the plot comes in when we consider the rapid advent of automated machine-controlled (robot) trading. One could suppose that this will reduce shady trading practices, but on the other hand, someone has to program the machine- the “bot” will only be as honest as the programmer!
Colin Fan admits the future is uncertain, but is satisfied that DB does well to “clean up” internally during this low financial ebb across the world markets and to come out squeaky clean and ready to rumble when the world economy “normalizes.”