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To operate at the heart of clients’ businesses demands that technology infrastructure is agile enough to deliver the services at the speed required, robust enough to cope with the volume and security, and future proofed so that legacy technology can be accommodated - rather than remain some sort of albatross.
As with any large organisation that has grown through acquisition, a build-up of disparate networks from the acquired companies can impede the efficiency of the enlarged company. Deutsche Bank would not be the only large financial institution housing legacy systems several decades old and needing to reengineer its IT strategy.
In a PwC paper, Financial Services technology 2020 and beyond: embracing disruption,3 it notes “Incumbents carry a huge burden of IT operating costs, stemming from layer upon layer of systems and code. They have bolted on a range of one-time regulatory fixes, fraud prevention, and cyber-security efforts, too. The ever-spreading cost base leaves less budget available for capital investment into new technology, driving a vicious cycle of increased operating costs. This is in clear contrast to the would-be disruptors, who typically have far lower operating costs, only buying what they need when they need it.”
Fintechs and platform giants have disrupted, by moving goalposts to uncomfortable new positions and changing the technology landscape in the process. Corporate and investment banks, noted the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), “ must become client centric, efficient, and agile, focusing on a select number of high-value areas and applying digital practices and integrated processes to work smarter and leaner”.4
In early October 2019, Deutsche Bank created a new Technology, Data and Innovation (TDI) division to get the technology transformation process underway by reducing administration overhead, taking further ownership of processes previously outsourced and building in-house engineering expertise. Bernd Leukert, who joined the Bank the previous month from enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution providers SAP as Chief Technology, Data and Innovation Officer and a Member of the Management Board, confirmed the new division would focus on five main initiatives:
- Agile teams;
- Engineering culture;
- Commitment to strategic initiatives;
- Investment in modernisation; and
“Technology has proven to be the enabler for the performance and contribution of not only the Technology Data and Innovation team but the whole company, enabling the entire workforce to work from home at scale, deliver quality service, allowing it to have operational stability at a level beyond that achieved in 2019”, said Leukert during a recent global internal webcast on 11 May. He went on to point out that holding the Bank’s Virtual Annual General Meeting was a testament to that stability.5
“An important part of our technology strategy is to enable our people to securely meet clients at a time and place of their choice,” he adds. On 25 June 2020, Deutsche Bank announced that the Symphony Connect Solution now integrates WhatsApp into Deutsche Bank communication channels with clients.6 The move follows the introduction in November 2019 of the WeChat functionality, which means that more than three million users can now securely and safely communicate with Deutsche Bank employees, who are restricted in the platforms they can use as a result of regulatory requirements.
At Deutsche Bank Corporate Bank, an increasing move to real-time processing and the ramping up of customer demand for integrated systems and access to supporting data means that technology underpins the whole of this part of the Bank’s business.
As Vikram Dewan, its Chief Information Officer puts it, “The heart of our offering is technology and operations. This is very different from corporate finance and investment banking where dealmakers sell deals. We are selling banking as a service all running on technology.”
This article looks at the culture of resilient innovation and technology at the Corporate Bank and shares its journey towards Sewing’s 2022 vision of technology platform overhaul and infrastructure transformation.