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Germany’s financial regulator has installed a special supervisor at Deutsche Bank, as the lender grapples with deepening customer service issues at its subsidiary Postbank after a botched IT integration.
Deutsche has been inundated by complaints since the July migration of 12mn Postbank clients, which the bank originally claimed was successful. However, thousands of customers have since been locked out of their accounts for weeks — leaving them struggling to buy food and pay rent — and customer service centres have been overwhelmed.
Last month, BaFin issued a rare public rebuke, calling the “considerable disturbances” and long wait times “unacceptable”. On Monday, it announced that it was placing a monitor inside the bank to ensure the issues were addressed “quickly, completely and permanently”.
“BaFin is fulfilling its legal mandate for collective consumer protection and can intervene on a supervisory basis if the urgently-needed improvements in order processing at Postbank and DSL Bank do not materialise,” the supervisor added.
“We are making progress in improving processing times at Postbank,” Deutsche said in a statement. “We will work closely with the financial supervisory authority and its representative to meet the expectations of our regulators and customers affected by inconvenience as quickly as possible.”
The technology problems stem from Deutsche’s ill-fated takeover of rival Postbank in 2010, a troubled retail lender that was once part of Germany’s state-owned postal service. Over the past decade, Deutsche first failed to find a buyer for Postbank and then bungled an earlier IT integration effort, wasting €1bn between 2010 and 2015.
In 2017, Deutsche decided it would go ahead with a full integration of Postbank, keeping only the brand and its branches, which it forecasts will deliver €300mn in annual cost savings by 2025.
The so-called “Project Unity”, was completed in July when the final batch of clients and contracts was moved on to Deutsche’s IT systems. However, the FT has previously reported that Deutsche had failed to give Postbank staff enough training on its own computer systems and struggled to comply with legal requirements around court orders.
The monitor is a blow for chief executive Christian Sewing, who ran the retail business for three years before he was promoted to the top job in 2018. Sewing has previously apologised for the customer services issues and assigned hundreds of extra staff to fix them. The bank could now also face a regulatory fine.
The bank’s shares were little changed after the news and have fallen 4.6 per cent this year.
Source: Financial Times