Deutsche Bank Cut Bonus Pool Plans After Criticism From ECB

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Deutsche Bank AG scaled back plans for its bonus pool after the European Central Bank objected to proposed payout levels, highlighting the challenges of rewarding top performers while heeding demands for restraint during the global pandemic.

Germany’s largest lender had initially planned to pay out more than 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) for staff performance in 2020, but that amount has been cut after several rounds of talks with the regulator in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter. The ECB has now dropped its reservations, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing the private information.

Deutsche Bank Cut Bonus Pool Plans After Criticism From ECB

Representatives for Deutsche Bank and the ECB declined to comment.

Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing has promised to reward high-performing staff after soaring revenue from securities trading helped keep his turnaround on track even as the global economy slumped. But regulators have urged banks to show constraint after receiving unprecedented relief to weather the crisis, which has wreaked havoc on many other industries.

“We’re obviously very mindful of the guidance that we’ve got from the ECB to apply moderation in variable compensation,” Chief Financial Officer James von Moltke said in a Bloomberg TV interview in early February. “We of course need to balance that with what was a strong performance year and the need to compensate people for that performance on a competitive basis.”

Deutsche Bank Cut Bonus Pool Plans After Criticism From ECB

For 2019, the bank had a bonus pool of 1.52 billion euros. That was a reduction of 22% on the previous year, after the bank reported a loss of 5.7 billion euros on large write-downs and restructuring expenses.

Traders, who traditionally take the lion’s share of the pool, are in line for a boost of more than 10% for 2020, Bloomberg News has reported. Revenue from buying and selling securities was up 28% last year.

Deutsche Bank Cut Bonus Pool Plans After Criticism From ECB

Staff at the lender’s other divisions will likely see lesser increases or even declining bonuses, especially at the transaction bank and the retail bank. The two units shrank last year and Sewing has repeatedly downgraded his growth expectations for them.

Deutsche Bank said earlier this month that overall compensation expenses fell 6% last year to 10.5 billion euros as the lender cut jobs. It’s expected to disclose the bonus pool amount in its annual report next month.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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