INTERVIEW / Christiana Riley
is not diverse
Christiana Riley, Member of the Management Board and Deutsche Bank’s Americas CEO, talks about the bank’s
U.S. business, the importance of ESG and how the bank is accelerating its diversity focus
This fall, Deutsche Bank will move from Wall Street into
its new U.S. headquarters at One Columbus Circle, one of Manhattan’s most prestigious addresses. What role does
the U.S. market play in Deutsche Bank overall?
Next year marks 150 years in the United States for Deutsche Bank. Those deep roots, combined with New York’s importance as a glob- al financial hub and the country’s rank as a top export destination for German manufacturers, makes the U.S. a key part of Deutsche Bank’s global footprint. Likewise, Germany is a top destination
for American exporters, and remains a steadfast ally in the heart of Europe. Deutsche Bank, and our U.S. business, sit at the intersec- tion of these economic ties by facilitating access to the best of
Do you see Deutsche Bank as a bridge between
Europe and the Americas?
We are one of the largest foreign banks in the market, creating ac- cess for European firms in the Americas, as well as supporting American firms who rely on our global service network to expand abroad. The region is home to our leading businesses in investment and corporate banking, and our clients have a good understanding of who we are and what we do. As a result, we have consistent touch points with our clients’ senior leadership, and are able to source top talent.
You took over the U.S. business in 2019 responsible for
executing the regional impact of a global transformation. What keeps you up at night now that you’re coming through the other side?
Since beginning our transformation in 2019, we are smaller, sim- pler, and most importantly, stronger. This success is reflected in our regional performance over the last two years, and the positive momentum we’ve generated has improved our standing with clients, the market, and even our own colleagues. Building a cul- ture of excellence and integrity is of vital importance to me person- ally, as well as for this region, and the whole firm. It’s important to note that we’re not taking anything for granted. We know there is more work to be done in some areas, and we’ll need constant effort to maintain our progress. We also need to strengthen our ability to manage non-financial risk, in particular upholding our obligation in preventing financial crime. We are here to enable good through the financial system, while preventing bad from occurring. Else- where we’ve made strong progress on data and technology im- provements, but still have work ahead of us.
What areas do you see as having the biggest opportunities for Deutsche Bank in the U.S.?
Looking ahead there are two main opportunities on the horizon. The first is Deutsche Bank’s reliability and wide reach in Asia. As political tensions between the United States and China simmer, our clients see us as a third-party who can deliver results in Asia de- spite shifting winds. Second is our massive advantage on ESG and sustainability given our success with these products in Europe. Our recent performance is not just a result of harnessing market tail- winds – a large part of the revenue performance is repeatable and sustainable as it comes from expanding client engagement, and seizing on these emerging opportunities.
Under former President Trump the U.S. loosened many cli- mate protections and environmental regulations. President Biden is working to convince the world the U.S. is serious about tackling climate change. How does this impact your ESG work?
As the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress pursue policy actions to address climate change, we’re well positioned to support the transition to a low-carbon economy. The Biden administration has been a game changer for ESG in America. The focus on envi- ronmental sustainability, not to mention the backdrop of wild fires and drought in the American West, or flooding in Germany, has thrust the issue of climate change to the forefront of public discus- sion for regulators, clients, and our staff.
How does the U.S. differ from Europe in this area?
European readers will be well versed in the dialogue around the need to reach net-zero emissions globally by 2050, and the urgency to make material progress in this decade, but these discussions didn’t begin in earnest in the U.S. market until this year. Reflecting our European home market, sustainability has been placed at the core of Deutsche Bank’s global strategy, which in turn has left us well placed to support our U.S.-based clients’ sustainable transformation.
How does Deutsche Bank support its clients’ sustainable transition in the U.S.?
Unlike physical manufacturers, banks don’t have an extensive physical supply chain to leverage in order to create immediate change. While a sporting good manufacturer’s key inputs are raw materials like cotton for t-shirts, or rubber soles for sneakers, a bank’s is cash. Our business model is to borrow money and use that to lend to others for socially beneficial purposes, or to enable an- other type of economic transaction for our clients. We leverage this business model to support our clients on their ESG transformation journeys – they need our advice; they need our products and capital solutions. That means originating and structuring ESG bonds, pro- ducing the assets in-house that our clients demand, and distribut- ing them to the market.
Last year you wrote about taking a strong public stance against racism and spoke about investing more time and energy to promote a diverse and inclusive culture at the bank. What has Deutsche Bank changed in the U.S. in that respect since then?
In the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd we have accelerat- ed our diversity focus, building upon some of the successes we have had in the LGBTQI+ arena, with a localised approach, focused on the needs of our people in the U.S.. However, our efforts go beyond racism. No matter your race, your religion, your background, your experience, your gender or your orientation, you should be able to bring your whole self to work.
What concrete actions does this translate into?
Last year, in the U.S., I launched seven actions to progress racial and ethnic diversity over seven months, and we completed those seven actions ahead of schedule. Concrete actions included changes in hiring practices, and embedded goals in performance scorecards, which has helped us focus on the challenges.
What has been the impact of some of your actions
on gender diversity or racial representation?
Our regional graduate intake this year is 41 percent women and 10 percent Black, up significantly from last year, with a 13 and 6 per- centage point increase respectively. Further, our interns who joined us this summer are also far more diverse than last year, be- ing 45 percent women and 15 percent Black, a 7 and 8 percentage point increase versus prior year respectively.
On the external side: what about involving banks owned by minorities or women in Deutsche Bank’s business? This has become more popular for big banks to demonstrate their commitment to diversity.
We’re putting our money where our mouth is. This spring we bor- rowed 750 million dollars to fund our U.S. operations. But rather than sourcing that funding directly ourselves, as we and others on Wall Street typically do, we instead chose to partner with a group of eleven diverse firms. As a result, this diverse group was able to raise their profiles with investors, take home 60 percent of the fees from the transaction, and create knowledge share to further en- hance their credentials for future deals.
Why choose this approach?
Because Wall Street is not diverse enough. And we will do this type of deal again.
Paula Sanz Caballero
“Since beginning our transformation in
2019, we are smaller, simpler, and most importantly, stronger”
“We are one of the largest foreign banks in the market, creating access for European firms in the Americas”
She graduated cum laude from Princeton University and obtained an MBA from the London Business School. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, Riley worked at the New York investment bank Greenhill which sent her to Frankfurt. She switched to McKinsey and in 2006 to Deutsche Bank. The American spent nine years in Group Strategy &
Planning, which she ran from 2011 to 2015. In 2015, she became CFO of the Corporate &
Investment Bank. In 2019, she was promot- ed to CEO of the Americas and moved back to New York. She has been a member of the Management Board since January 2020.
“No matter your race, your religion, your background, your experience, your gender or your orientation, you should be able to bring your whole self to work”
“Last year, in the U.S.,
I launched seven actions
to progress racial and ethnic diversity over seven months, and we completed those seven actions ahead of schedule”
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