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Georg Thoma, currently head of the integrity committee of Deutsche Bank's supervisory board, is due to step down in a month after DB's vice chairman Alfred Herling criticized him publically for "overzealousness". Mr. Thoma is stepping down amid what Mr. Herling claims to be a difference of opinion over the costs of the internal investigations that Mr. Thoma oversaw.

All companies are complex organizations and Deutsche Bank is much more complex than most. It also has a history, like many of its peers, of running afoul of its regulators. It may well be that the difference of opinion that Mr. Herling points to is real, rooted in principle on both sides, and not reconcilable. But in many situations like this, there can be an additional layer of confusion that makes matters worse than they otherwise could be.

Did the board set clear expectations for the integrity committee regarding its mandate to conduct internal investigations? Was a clear budget for investigations agreed to in advance? These common sense management discussions may very well have happened at Deutsche Bank, but if they did not, perhaps they could have averted a messy and public spat between DB's directors. Is your board working well and communicating clearly enough to set clear expectations among both management and directors? Do you have the time to ensure that this critical communication happens? These are important questions and ones that all great boards should be on top of.

Apr 29, 2016 6:23 am EDT