stimulation for agile minds

The image of banking has been tainted in the eyes of some potential recruits by the losses and trading scandals of recent years. In Italy banks also face tough competition for bright young talent from seemingly more glamorous and exciting fashion and media companies. 

Yet Deutsche Bank shines through. It’s the bank Italians taking part in the Randstad Award survey most want to work for and its attractiveness rating ranks alongside the country’s famous fashion houses. 

Good salaries are clearly part of the appeal. However, Carlos Gonzaga, Head of Human Resources, believes that what really sets Deutsche Bank Italy apart are the challenge and excitement of being able to go anywhere and try anything, while being able to make a real difference to the lives of their clients. So what do agile minds find so stimulating about Deutsche Bank?

You only need to think about how rarely you cash a check these days to realize how much and how quickly banking is changing. The smartphone has ushered in a world of 24/7 on-the-go banking. Customers now expect their banks to provide the same ease and accessibility they’ve become accustomed to in online retail or digital communications. In turn, an increasingly globalized economy means that even relatively small businesses now routinely source and sell internationally, and expect their banks to help make this possible. And even bigger changes are on their way as Big Data, artificial intelligence and machine-to-machine trading revolutionize the world of finance.

“We clearly need intelligent people and maintain close contacts with leading universities to help find and attract top graduates. But the most important quality we’re looking for is the agile mindset that enables people to adapt to what is now constant change within banking,” says Carlos Gonzaga. “It doesn’t matter how good an economist the candidate is or how strong their technological skills, if they don’t have the capacity to adapt, their skills will soon become obsolete.”

Deutsche Bank Italy has set up dedicated assessment centers to help identify and select these nimble-minded recruits. “We look at how people perform within a group dynamic, how well they develop relationships and how effective they are at solving problems. It soon becomes clear which people have what it takes,” says Mr Gonzaga. 

different voices deliver better results

The bank believes that diversity is a vital part of its ability to respond to change by bringing new voices and ideas into the organization. “For us, diversity is about bringing in people with different experiences and perspectives as well as providing more opportunities for women, people with disabilities, people from different ethnic backgrounds, and gay, lesbian and transgender people,” says Mr Gonzaga. “We want people with varied opinions – an orchestral concert is always more fascinating than a single instrument. And we’re making strong headway in broadening our organization – ten years ago we were still a male-dominated business, but now more than half of our intake is women, for example.”

the chance to shine

Competition for these creative thinkers and leaders of change is clearly intense. Yet, according to the 2015 Randstad Award survey, banking ranks a fairly low eighth in the sectors people in Italy would like to work in. The financial crisis has dented the image of the industry. Within investment banking, the returns and hence remuneration are down, and the megadeals are fewer and farther between than they were prior to the financial crisis. In turn, business and retail banking may seem a little dull in comparison to the glamour of fashion or constantly changing horizons of technology. 

“We know we need to win over the best recruits. We pay well, which is reflected in the fact that we rank number one for competitive salaries in the Randstad Award survey. But money can’t be the only driver. If you want the best people, you need to give them the excitement that comes with new challenges, meaningful work and the chance to shine. We’re therefore pleased to have been recognized in the survey as number one for career development,” says Mr Gonzaga. As a major global bank, employees have the opportunity to take up international assignments. They can also explore new roles – Mr Gonzaga himself worked in business banking and as a branch manager in retail before moving to HR.

“In the wake of the financial crisis, it’s essential for the banking industry to restore a solid bond of trust with the communities we serve. That applies to us at Deutsche Bank as well as the entire industry,” Mr Gonzaga continues. He believes that one of the big differentiators for Deutsche Bank Italy is that while it offers international opportunities, it’s also very much rooted in the community. “Our surveys show that our customers see us as different. We want to develop solutions for the issues they face rather than just handling their transactions. And potential recruits see the extra care we take when they come into our branches, hear it from their friends and family and want to be part of that,” says Mr Gonzaga.

“And rather than just talking about integrity we need to make sure it’s built into every aspect of the working day. During appraisals, we don’t just ask our people what they’ve achieved, but how they’ve achieved it and what impact it will have. And we use electronic measurement and tracking to make sure the yearly performance evaluation is timely,” says Mr Gonzaga. 

word of mouth

So how are the attractions of the organization and its values conveyed? “We’re very conscious of how our commercial and employer brand are perceived and carry out surveys and seek feedback to gauge this. But we don’t spend that much on advertising, preferring word of mouth. People see the kind of customer experience and solutions we try to offer, and that provides recruits with a much better indication of what kind of organization we are than advertising would. We also make contact with students through their universities and through social media channels,” says Mr Gonzaga.  

passion to perform

So what can other companies learn from Deutsche Bank Italy? In a world where nothing stands still, the most prized talent is the versatile and creative people who see change as an opportunity rather than being phased or feeling threatened by it. Deutsche Bank Italy recognizes these agile minds need variety, challenge and intellectual stimulation as much as financial remuneration. Just as importantly it wants to be known as a bank that champions diversity and provides employees with meaning in their careers, which helps to broaden its talent pool and attract people who want to go the extra mile for clients – what it calls the “passion to perform”. Its employees won’t be seeing their creations on the catwalk, but the challenges they face are no less exciting and their chance to make a difference even greater.  


employer branding at Deutsche Bank Italy

Banking was ranked eighth out of 14 in the sectors respondents in Italy would like to work in. But Deutsche Bank Italy was by far the most attractive company in its sector. It scored number across all sectors in Italy for career growth opportunities and competitive salary and employee benefits. It was also in the top three for work-life balance.