Who is the boss in a bank

In principle, association work is not something a manager wants, and although he presumably cannot complain about underemployment in his main job as head of Deutsche Bank, Christian Sewing was elected President of the Bankers Association on Monday - arguably the most important financial lobby in the country . The 50-year-old Westphalian has even rearranged his work matrix and is relinquishing responsibilities. After the general meeting of the group in May, he believes that he will have shoveled enough time to be able to lead the banking association from July. Until then, the incumbent President Hans-Walter Peters still has to do some unpleasant things, for example compensate the customers of the bankrupt bank Greensill, for which all 170 member institutions had paid into a security fund.

Sewing will then no longer have much to do with this subject; When he was presented as President-elect on Monday, he quickly made it clear what will be important to him during his term in office: for example, to ensure that the stricter capital requirements are not tightened. Or that the banks will have to pay less to the European resolution fund, which was set up in 2014 in order to involve the financial sector in their rescue in an emergency, i.e. not to ask the taxpayers to pay up alone. From 2016 and 2020, the contributions of the German institutes to the fund increased from 1.8 to 2.2 billion euros, calculates the banking association. This restricts the institutions in granting loans. Deutsche Bank alone had to pay around 600 million euros into the fund in 2020, where the billions would be "lying around unused".

On the one hand, his negotiating position is strong: Sewing has apparently maneuvered Deutsche Bank out of the woods. At least the share price is almost as high as it was three years ago when he took over the position. "Now we at Deutsche Bank are so far that I trust myself to play this role," he said.

On the other hand, Sewing has just increased the bonuses for its investment bankers, i.e. it has shown itself to be generous for the sector that almost brought the bank to the brink - and that despite the fact that supervisors had asked the banks to be moderate in the Corona crisis. In total, the bank paid almost two billion euros in bonuses for 2020, with a mini-profit of 113 million euros. Doesn't such generosity in one's own cause weaken the credibility of his lobbying messages? After all, a certain modesty in bonuses would strengthen the banks' lending power, as would a reduced bank levy. Sewing, of course, does not challenge that. The association has good relations in Berlin and Brussels and will certainly "record one or two successes in the future too". The fact that Deutsche Bank has already factored in the reduction in the bank levy in its cost planning despite warnings from voices is evidence of the bank's very own self-confidence.

In any case, there should now be more continuity in the association's work, at least Sewing's contract with Deutsche Bank has just been extended to 2026. Before that, there was unrest at the top of the association: In April 2020, Martin Zielke, then head of Commerzbank, moved to the top. With his resignation at the bank, he also made the lobby office available. Thereupon Peters was elected as the new president, who had given up the office only a few months earlier. If all goes well, Sewing will stay in office for three years. Lots of time for lobbying success.