If you want to attach the importance of news to the share price, then Commerzbank was punished with clear disregard on the markets.

Shortly after Commerzbank sent the message from the new board members Jörg Oliveri del Castillo-Schulz and Thomas Schaufler to the world on Wednesday evening, the stock market was unimpressed.

On Thursday, too, it was barely moving at 5.30 euros.

At the beginning of November 2020 the price had fallen below 4 euros for a short time, when Manfred Knof took office at the beginning of 2021 things went up again, in June it was at least a good 6 euros.

But the soaring lasted only a short time.

Inken Schönauer

Editor in business, responsible for the financial market.

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The fact that the new board members were unable to provide any impetus on the stock exchange is likely to have something to do with the fundamental skepticism that Commerzbank is facing.

Even under its new boss Knof, Commerzbank never tires of emphasizing that it is firmly anchored in medium-sized companies and has its permanent place in the market.

The basic business model for this remains nebulous.

The departure of long-time Commerzbank IT boss Jörg Hessenmüller had long been apparent.

At the latest since the outsourcing of securities processing to HSBC failed, Hessenmüller has been counted.

So now Jörg Oliveri del Castillo-Schulz is to take over the department.

The IT manager previously held various positions as a consultant.

In 2016, he filled the newly created management board position for IT at Mittelstandsbank IKB for four years.

In banking circles, the appointment of Oliveri del Castillo-Schulz was received with some amazement.

Although he has experience in IT matters, he has so far not attracted attention with his groundbreaking expertise.

But that is necessary.

Digitization neglected

IT is now considered essential in banking. The problem with the banks is that over time, new systems have been put on top of old ones. To make matters worse, the IT processes do not just have to run properly in the background as they used to be. Business models must be digitized smoothly and securely in the background (the back office), but also directly at the customer's (front office).

For far too long, banks have neglected digitization and not invested enough.

When the need was recognized, the financial crisis broke out.

The modernization of the IT was put on the back burner, all funds were directed towards the financial strengthening of the institutes.

As is well known, the German state even got involved with Commerzbank.

In the meantime, the state share has been reduced, but the state share is still around 15 percent.

Expensive regulation

Although the banks have now been strengthened, the financial crisis is still having a strong impact. The cost of regulation is immense. Just a few days ago, Commerzbank boss Manfred Knof said at the bank summit that the financial industry no longer needed, but smarter rules. The regulatory-driven costs would have to go down. Especially in times of crisis like the pandemic, they would place an additional burden on the banks.

In a bank study by the IT consulting firm ti & m from the spring, the slim majority of those surveyed stated that banks will transform themselves into technology companies even more in the future than before. Only 7 percent believe that this statement is incorrect. The tough competitive environment in which Commerzbank and other banks generally operate is also shown by the question of the greatest risk to the banks, where three attackers should be named. Around 82 percent named global financial service providers such as PayPal or Klarna, 66 percent named international IT companies and 49 percent named comparison portals.

Only 15 percent of those surveyed stated that competing banks could become the greatest threat to the institutions themselves. In addition to IT, the private customer business at Commerzbank is a permanent construction site. From January 1, 2022, it will be managed by Thomas Schaufler. He previously worked in a similar position at Erste Group Bank in Austria.

Former Commerzbank boss Martin Zielke, who had been responsible for private customer business for a long time before his appointment as CEO, his persistence in branch business was fatal. Almost like a prayer wheel, Zielke had long defended the hundreds of branches that the customers supposedly asked for. This strategy has long since been cashed in. By the end of 2022, the branch network is to be cut in half from currently around 790 branches to 450. In the course of this, around 10,000 employees are also expected to leave the company. Commerzbank CEO Manfred Knof said of the innovations: "Now it is a matter of developing the full potential as a team and consistently transforming it further."

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