Deutsche Bank AG investors have grown accustomed to John Cryan’s blunt talk since he took the helm a year ago. He’s chastised bankers for their pay and described his employer as an “endemic underperformer.”

But some were still surprised Wednesday when the chief executive officer said unjustified doubts over Deutsche Bank’s financial strength had spooked some clients last quarter.

“He’s already made comments I’ve never heard from a bank CEO,” said Michael Huenseler, who helps oversee about 17 billion euros ($18.7 billion), including Deutsche Bank debt, at Assenagon Asset Management in Munich. “Highlighting that clients were thin-skinned may be true, but it isn’t necessarily helpful.”

Cryan is working to revive profit and meet stricter capital requirements at Germany’s largest bank, while digesting mounting fines for misconduct. Investors aren’t the only ones with a stake in his success: the International Monetary Fund said last month that Deutsche Bank’s connections to other lenders may make it the single biggest contributor to systemic risk among global banks.

As Cryan closes businesses and pulls out of countries to improve capital levels and profitability, some investors worry about the resulting loss in revenue. Should the bank’s clients balk, that could make it even tougher to earn the money needed to carry out the overhaul.

Stepping Back

“It’s absolutely essential John holds on to as much of his revenue base as possible as he goes through this very, very big change,” Christopher Wheeler, an analyst at Atlantic Equities, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. While Deutsche Bank is still “a fabulous brand,” its clients can’t ignore the overhaul and “they’re going to have to just step it back a bit until they see a calmer situation,” he said.

Deutsche Bank fell for a third day, declining 4.1 percent to 11.94 euros at 5:21 p.m. in Frankfurt and bringing the drop this year to about 47 percent. Its stock trades at the lowest ratio to tangible book value among the nine largest investment banks, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Credit-default swaps insuring Deutsche Bank’s debt against losses, a measure that can show counterparties hedging their exposure to the lender, surged earlier this month to the highest since February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The contracts covered a net notional $3.8 billion of Deutsche Bank’s debt on July 22, the most for any bank, according to data from Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.

“The tough environment took its toll on our share price and on those of many other banks” in the second quarter, Cryan, 55, wrote to the bank’s more than 100,000 employees. “Doubts were raised about our financial strength. These were unjustified but they unsettled some clients and that made our day-to-day work more difficult."