Deutsche Bank chief blames regulation for lack of banking innovation

Lynsey Barber
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Deutsche Bank chief John Cryan said banks are trying to innovate (Source: Getty)

Regulatory pressures are to blame for a lack of innovation among traditional financial institutions, according to the top boss of Deutsche Bank.

Speaking at Davos on the subject of the future of finance, chief executive John Cryan said: "As regulation becomes more granular, traditional institutions tend to become less innovative and we're looking elsewhere for disrupters.

"Everything regulated tends to continue as it is. Regulation is not generally a facilitator of change "

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He said the bank, which last year opened a "digital factory" in Frankfurt but also ditched plans to launch a digital bank, tries to innovate against this backdrop, but "innovation in financial services has been frowned upon for a decade or so."

He said Deutsche Bank was now placing a bet on technology when asked where he sees the future of big banks in the next five years: "We haven't been innovative other than in delivery channels. So technology is key in the next five years."

"We don't think the demands of our clients and counterparts will change too much. We can use technology to improve our own controls. We can use technology to improve our efficiency. And then we can use the technology to improve the customer service," he said.

Cryan said Deutsch Bank's approach is working with fintech firms and entrepreneurs, "but at a slight distance".

Taking an equity stake in firms was one of several ways the bank works with fintechs - "but with some degree of exclusivity and we can capture some degree of intellectual property without necessarily employing the individual" - with Cryan admitting that many entrepreneurs are unlikely to want to aspire to work within such a traditional corporation as Deutsche Bank.

Read more: Forget Brexit: London and Belgium are collaborating on fintech

"There's a phenomenal amount of innovation right now in finance, it's hard to know which direction it will take," said economist Kenneth Rogoff, who was also speaking at the event alongside Cryan and predicted that central bank digital currencies were "pretty likely" within the next 20 years "if not the next five".

Watch: Davos 2017 - The Future of Finance

Deutsche Bank chief executive John Cryan, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein, M&G Investments' chief executive Anne Richards and Zurich chief executive Mario Greco.

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