Deutsche Bank has begun installing an application on bankers’ phones to track all their communications with clients amid regulatory probes into inappropriate messaging that have rattled the industry.
The German lender has started requiring certain bankers to download Movius, a US mobile app that allows compliance staff to monitor calls, text messages and WhatsApp conversations, according to people with knowledge of the policy.
Movius, which has partnerships with telecoms companies such as Sprint, BlackBerry, Telstra and Telefónica, was adopted by several banks during the pandemic to allow remote working for staff in heavily regulated roles such as trading.
JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Julius Baer, Jefferies and Cantor Fitzgerald have all made use of the software in recent years.
Banks are increasingly looking for tools to help them monitor employees’ contact with clients following several regulatory investigations that have resulted in the departure of bankers.
The US government is investigating record-keeping practices across Wall Street, while the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and BaFin in Germany have requested information from banks over how they monitor their staff’s personal communications.
Deutsche has been installing Movius on employees’ phones for several weeks, though the exercise has been focused on work phones rather than private devices, according to people with knowledge of the approach. The company’s code of conduct prohibits work-related electronic communications with clients and business partners via channels it does not monitor.
The bank declined to comment on its use of Movius.
A former executive of Deutsche’s asset management arm, DWS, has flagged the alleged extensive use of WhatsApp by outgoing chief executive Asoka Wöhrmann and other DWS executives in a whistleblower complaint to Germany’s financial watchdog BaFin, the Financial Times has reported.
The FT also reported this year that Deutsche chief executive Christian Sewing exchanged friendly WhatsApp messages with a German businessman who the bank had ditched as a client after a number of potentially suspicious payments.
Deutsche has been approached by BaFin this year to provide information about how staff use messaging apps, people close to the bank said. Bloomberg has previously reported the bank has been trialling a technical fix to improve monitoring of communications.
The regulatory probes have led to serious repercussions for individual employees. Credit Suisse removed a prominent investment banker from his role this year after he was found to have used unapproved messaging apps with clients, the FT reported this week.
HSBC’s London-based compliance team carried out an investigation of personal messaging this year, which resulted in an unnamed foreign exchange trader being dismissed. The probe unveiled messages on the individual’s phone that revealed a broker buying the trader tickets to a sporting event
In December, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $200mn in fines to the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for failing to keep records of staff communications on personal devices, in an action that spooked many Wall Street banks.
Most banks have policies in place that dictate communication with clients should be conducted through official channels, such as company email or recorded phone lines, which can be monitored by the compliance department.
But bankers often find their clients prefer to communicate on apps on their personal mobiles.