Frankfurt The backing of chairs on the Commerzbank board continues: the supervisory board of Germany’s second largest private bank appointed Sabine Mlnarsky as the new head of human resources on Wednesday. At the beginning of next year, the 47-year-old Austrian will succeed Sabine Schmittroth, who is leaving the institute after 38 years. Chief Risk Officer Marcus Chromik will also resign at the end of 2023.
Mlnarsky is currently Head of Human Resources at Erste Group, the leading institute of the Austrian savings banks. The lawyer will be the second Austrian board member at Commerzbank alongside Thomas Schaufler, Head of Private Customers. Schaufler also came from Erste Group in December 2021 and has made a good impression in Frankfurt so far.
“We are pleased to have gained an experienced and dynamic manager in Ms. Mlnarsky, who not only knows our industry very well, but has also proven herself in phases of upheaval,” said Helmut Gottschalk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board. “She will give HR work at Commerzbank fresh impetus.”
Mlnarsky started her career in 2001 in the human resources department of Erste Group. At the end of 2013, she moved to the Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines for almost three years, where she was responsible for restructuring. In 2016 she returned to Erste Group and has been in charge of the human resources department there ever since.
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Mlnarsky expects a challenging task at Commerzbank. The institute is in the middle of a restructuring and intends to cut a total of 10,000 jobs by 2024. Almost 7,000 employees have already left the institute or signed corresponding agreements.
In addition, Commerzbank, like all financial institutions, is struggling with the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to find new staff. “The job market is empty – there is a big competition for talent, especially for securities advisors,” said Deutsche Bank manager Philipp Gossow on Tuesday at the Handelsblatt conference “Future Retail Banking”.
As part of its restructuring in 2021, Commerzbank advertised significantly fewer new jobs than in previous years, according to an analysis by Index Research. In the first five months of the current year, however, the number of advertised positions rose again slightly to 524.
Two terms are enough for US presidents and heads of risk
Mlnarsky’s predecessor Schmittroth had announced her departure at the end of the year in February after a stalemate over the extension of her contract and indiscretions within the financial institution. A year later, with risk manager Chromik, the next top manager will leave the institute.
Chromik has long made it clear internally that he believes two terms in office for American presidents and risk directors are enough. After that, you need someone who has a fresh perspective on the issues. In addition, the nuclear physicist recently turned 50 – and wants to do something new in his career. According to financial circles, it is still unclear where he is going.
On Wednesday, Chromik officially informed the supervisory board that he did not want to extend his contract, which expired at the end of 2023. According to financial circles, the committee has therefore commissioned a personnel consultancy to look for a successor.
“We respect Mr. Chromik’s long-standing decision to start a new chapter in his professional life after 14 years at the bank and eight years on the Management Board,” said Gottschalk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board. “By informing the Supervisory Board at an early stage, clarity and planning security for an orderly transition in this important function are created at the same time.”
Commerzbank has almost completely replaced the board
Gottschalk and other members of the supervisory board had tried in recent months to persuade Chromik to continue, after all, the head of risk enjoys a high reputation both inside and outside the bank. “I appreciate him very much and would be happy if he stays connected to the bank beyond 2023,” Gottschalk told the Handelsblatt in early May. Chromik, however, could not be changed.
With his departure, Commerzbank has almost completely replaced its board of directors within a short period of time. In 2020, Michael Mandel, board member for private customers, head of corporate customers Roland Boekhout and chairman of the board Martin Zielke first threw down. IT Director Jörg Hessenmüller then had to leave in autumn 2021. From Zielke’s old management team, only CFO Bettina Orlopp is still on board.
Investors think the new start at the top of the bank is fundamentally correct, after all the institute has regularly missed its goals under Zielke’s leadership and was the only major German bank to hold on to its extensive branch network for a long time. On the other hand, many are critical of the fact that the fluctuation continues even after Zielke’s departure.
Gottschalk is now satisfied with the composition of the board around CEO Manfred Knof. “The bank is stabilizing around its strong CEO,” said the head of the supervisory board recently. The next most important personnel decision is now about Gottschalk himself. In autumn it should be decided whether he will remain chief controller after the end of his term of office in 2023.
More: The uncomfortable Herr Gottschalk – Chairman of the Supervisory Board confronts Commerzbank with a new world.