Could New Leadership Turn Deutsche Bank Around? (w/ David Enrich)
ED HARRISON: When we think about Deutsche Bank as an institution, overall, faulty in terms of their structure and hopefully fixing it, what character comes out as someone who-- I know in your book, there's a character that comes out as, yes, this is the person that we need to have at that institution. DAVID ENRICH: There's a man named Bill Broeksmit, who is one of the-- I guess he's the protagonist of the book in a lot of ways. Broeksmit was the son of a minister. He was raised in rural Illinois and got into the banking industry as an expert in risk management and derivatives. He joined Deutsche Bank as the first wave of people to come over from Merrill in the mid-1990s. He was the righthand man and actually best friend of Eds Mitchell and Bill climbed up through the ranks. Edson dies in a plane crash in 2000, and Bill after a break from the bank comes back, he's close with Anshu Jain. He becomes one of the most senior risk executives at the bank. Broeksmit developed a reputation in the bank as being this rare character with just very strong principles. He was someone who had the credibility to not only say no to transactions, but to do it in a way that people really generally respected what he was saying. He was viewed internally as the ethical compass of the place for a long time. Risk managers there would view him as this voice of reason in this insane organization that they work for. He climbs up through the ranks. He's at or near the very top of the bank for a long time. Then in January 2014, he's found hanging in his apartment in London, and so the book really uses him in his rise and tragic end as the symbol really for how the bank started off with these really good intentions, and Broeksmit was someone who was a pioneer of the modern swaps market, and really envisioned derivatives as a tool to help clients hedge risks, and really, that's a great revolutionary device that really changed the way big businesses worked in America and around the world. He watched as this product that he had pioneered morphed into something that was much more of a vehicle for financial speculation than it was a hedge, a defensive hedging mechanism for companies and he became very alarmed at some of the stuff that he'd been seeing in the bank. The book traces after his death, that quest that his son goes on to figure out why his father committed suicide. One of the things his son finds is that Bill had been using his Yahoo and Gmail accounts to send and receive thousands and thousands of Deutsche Bank related emails and so there's correspondence with the top executives, there are meeting minutes, their spreadsheets, their loan documents, on and on and on. Val, his son, Val, shared them with me. That become-- it provides this really unusual window inside the thinking of this lonely voice of reason near the top of a major and deeply troubled financial institution. It also just shows the personal toll that some of this really took and Bill Broeksmit, near the end of his life, was haunted by what he had seen at Deutsche Bank and what he was worried he had been sucked into during his time there. In my experience, at least, it's quite unusual to find a human character who so clearly illustrates the perils of this modern banking machine that was created, because this is someone with the best of intentions who got chewed up and steamrolled and have spat out-- God, I'm mixing metaphors again, but who really became a casualty of the bank that he worked for, and ultimately paid with his life. ED HARRISON: Yeah. That's a tragic story. DAVID ENRICH: Yeah, sorry. It's pretty grim. It's very sad. It's also sad because he's not the only person who took their own life at Deutsche Bank. This is part of a grisly pattern at the bank, which is, I don't think it's fair to pin that entirely on the bank, but there's no escaping the fact that there's a pattern there. Frankly, there's a pattern of that in the finance industry writ large over the past decade, and it shows us something is going quite wrong.