Traders beware: boasting and vulgarity are ‘not OK’

Deutsche Bank boss sends out video warning about online behaviour

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

 

Deutsche Bank traders: you have been warned. Boasting, vulgar comments and indiscretion are “not OK”.

Colin Fan, the co-head of the German lender’s investment bank, has taken the unusual step of sending out an internal video with a severe warning to traders about their online behaviour.

“Some of you are falling way short of our established standards,” warns Mr Fan in the video above, which was distributed to all employees in the global investment bank’s sales and trading division. “Let’s be clear: our reputation is everything. Being boastful, indiscreet and vulgar is not OK. It will have serious consequences for your career. And, I have lost patience on this issue.”

The warning comes as banks around the world grapple with how to control their traders, as a clutch of investigations, such as the probe into the manipulation of interbank lending rates and possible misconduct in the sprawling foreign exchange market, have revealed an embarrassing electronic trail of commentary.

“You may not realise it, but right now, because of regulatory scrutiny, all your communications may be reviewed,” says the Canadian, widely seen as a potential future chief executive of Europe’s largest investment bank. “This includes your emails, your conversations and your conduct.”

Yet despite embarrassing transcripts of instant messaging conversations published by regulators - with such comments as “Done, for you big boy”, referring to rate-rigging by a Barclays trader - bankers have not learnt their lesson.

Deutsche Bank's call to arms

Now, banks such as Deutsche are aiming to head off further reputational damage at a still precarious time for the industry.

Banks have been discovering more inappropriate communication in chat rooms, emails and instant messages as part of fresh investigations into whether the global foreign exchange market was also rigged by traders.

At least 11 regulators and prosecutors around the world are examining whether wrongdoing took place, with more than 30 people across nine banks suspended or fired from their roles so far, including at Deutsche Bank. No individual or institution has been charged with any wrongdoing.

Deutsche Bank confirmed the origination of the video and said: “The substance and tone of this video is intentionally direct and part of an ongoing programme.”

Deutsche executives have been trying to convince investors and the general public that they are achieving “cultural change” in the bank in the wake of the recent rate-rigging scandals.

The lender was fined ?725m in December by the European Commission for its role in rate-rigging cartels for yen Libor and Euribor. Deutsche is still being investigated by the German regulator for its role in the global Libor rate-rigging affair. It fired five traders in Frankfurt last year after an internal probe into Libor but was forced to reinstate four of them after a judge ruled they had been unfairly dismissed.

Concluding his remarks on the internal video, Mr Fan ends: “Communications that run even a small risk of being seen as unprofessional stops right now. I need you to exercise good sense and sound judgment. Think carefully about what you say and how you say it.”

“If not, it will have serious consequences for you personally.”

Financial Times