Deutsche Bank relocates Russia-based tech staff to Berlin

Deutsche Bank has offered staff at its technology centres in Russia the opportunity to relocate to Berlin, where the bank is establishing its latest tech centre.

About 1,500 staff at centres in Moscow and St Petersburg and their families have been made an offer to move, and hundreds have already accepted, with hundreds more considering it.

The relocations come after the bank decided to wind down its Russian operation following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Initially, Deutsche Bank’s operational resilience tests reassured it that its day-to-day Russian operation would not be affected by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but it said it would closely monitor the situation.

The bank’s employees in a technology centre in Russia carry out software maintenance for investment and corporate banking operations. These activities will now move to the new centre in Berlin.

The Berlin tech operation will be led by Gerrit Einhoff, CIO at Deutsche Bank’s corporate and investment banking division in Germany.

“Our technology centres play a key role in our technology transformation in close partnership with our businesses,” said Bernd Leukert, CTO at the bank. “Growing our presence in Berlin will attract talent, add high-quality developers to our platform, and build up critical AI [artificial intelligence] expertise to help redefine banking and contribute to our sustainable growth goals.”

Peter Schumacher, CEO at Germany-based management consultancy The Value Leadership Group, said Deutsche Bank clearly recognised that retaining its Russian IT staff was vital to maintain its competitive advantage. “In today’s tight talent market, compounded by the great pressure Deutsche Bank is facing from fintech challengers, retaining IT top talent is critical to the firm’s ability to innovate and maintain its competitive position,” he said.

Schumacher said the move would motivate staff who move to Berlin from Russia. “Getting the chance to leave Russia must be giving them a lot of confidence in their own personal futures and also that of Deutsche Bank,” he added.

The move was more than just relocating staff, but would enable the bank to “pursue even greater opportunities”, said Schumacher.

“By relocating their Russian IT team to Berlin, the heart of Germany’s startup ecosystem, Deutsche Bank has taken a more imaginative approach that will enable the bank to gain many innovation-oriented opportunities that surely were not available in Russia, even at the best of times.”

He said Deutsche Bank’s new Berlin centre would also be a major boost to the city’s tech and innovation ecosystem, adding: “Berlin gains a large and powerful anchor company.”

Separately, IBM has suspended its business in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, and its CEO has announced it is winding down its operations there.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna told the tech giant’s staff that, following a period of evaluation, it has decided that the risks are too high and it will not continue its operations in Russia.

The Russian Association for Electronic Communications, one of Russia’s public associations in the field of IT, reported recently that 50,000-70,000 IT specialists left the country in March, and 100,000 left in April. The figures for May are not yet available, but according to some industry sources, they will be comparable to those of previous months.

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