Mood of upheaval at Commerzbank! Every second branch is to be closed, 10,000 employees are to leave the bank.
He is at the forefront: Dr. Manfred Knof (55), new Commerzbank boss.
Born in Cologne, he was head of Allianz in Germany and most recently head of private customers at Deutsche Bank. The top manager has been sitting in the executive chair of Commerzbank since January 1, and is supposed to lead the money house into the future.
BILD met the bank boss for an interview.
BILD: How much does the lockdown annoy you?
Manfred Knof: “It is of course a challenge to take on such a task in the middle of lockdown. I only know a lot of employees through video conferences and many not at all. I therefore hope that the pandemic will soon be over and that I will finally be able to travel to the locations and also visit customers in person. ”
What is the lockdown doing to savers?
Knof: “We see a large increase in liquidity, also in the savings accounts and in the deposits.”
So will the Germans get richer after the lockdown?
Knof: “At the moment, consumers are saving a lot because they consume less and can therefore spend less money.”
What would you advise retail investors to do with the money?
Knof: “I don’t want to make direct recommendations. But it certainly makes sense to invest part of it in securities.
The stock markets are still doing very well and savers could benefit from it. ”
What do you do with your money?
Knof: “Spread widely! Shares with dividend yields and equity funds are good, but private mortgage lending is also one of them. ”
Interview in Corona times: BILD policy boss Jan W. Schäfer (left) and BILD reporter Leo Ginsburg during a video conversation with Commerzbank boss Manfred KnofPhoto: Sven Moschitz
Will interest rates rise again or will we have a permanent zero interest rate?
Knof: “Unfortunately, the zero interest rate for savers will remain for a few more years. We are preparing for the interest rate level to remain this low until the middle of the decade. ”
What about the solvency of the Germans?
The re is a divided picture. Industry and medium-sized businesses have shown themselves to be robust in the Corona crisis. Most customers get through this time well. In some areas, for example in gastronomy and retail, there are no doubt problems. ”
Is a wave of bankruptcies looming?
Knof: “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can’t see it right now. I believe that the federal government is doing a good job together with the banks. ”
Are the complaints of the medium-sized companies all wrong then?
The y say that they have not yet received any help and that they are running out of money.
The aid could certainly be paid out more quickly.
The re is still room for improvement in the processes. ”
Given the gigantic national debt – can Germany actually go bankrupt?
Knof: “No, that won’t happen. Despite the increased national debt, Germany is still more creditworthy than almost any other country. ”
As a child you wanted to become James Bond, now you are head of a bank: isn’t that downright boring?
The job is exciting and challenges me every day. I am grateful and have a great deal of humility that I can lead this traditional, 150-year-old bank into the future. “
The tallest office building in Germany: Manfred Knof on the 48th floor of the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt (Main)Photo: Sven Moschitz
How do you want to bring Commerzbank into the future?
Knof: “We are rebuilding and creating something new at the same time. For our private customers, we combine the digital innovation of Comdirect with the advisory skills of Commerzbank. When it comes to corporate customers, we concentrate primarily on German medium-sized companies. This also includes a significant reduction in staff. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable in order to secure the majority of jobs in the long term. ”
What do you say to an employee who has to leave?
Knof: “It is very difficult for me and it is very painful. That is why we will try to create clarity for the employees as quickly as possible. ”
Do you have to be ice cold to make such decisions?
Knof: “But on the contrary. I said that it was very difficult for me. And it is exactly the same with my fellow board members. ”
BILD policy boss Jan W. Schäfer (left) and BILD reporter Leo Ginsburg during a digital conversation with Commerzbank boss Manfred KnofPhoto: Niels Starnick / BILD
Can you rule out further job cuts in the next few years?
Knof: “When the world changes completely, of course every sensible manager has to reassess a situation.”
Wirecard ousted Commerzbank from the Dax, now Wirecard is bankrupt. Are you happy?
Knof: „Schadenfreude is completely out of place here. That was a sad event for Germany. ”
When do you want to go back to the Dax?
Knof: “Now let’s do our homework first, I’ve only been here 6 weeks.”