Deutsche Bank crowned India-born investment banking chief Anshu Jain and German banker Juergen Fitschen co-chief executives on Monday, ending a drawn-out succession process.
Jain, the 48-year-old head of investment banking, will take over from Josef Ackermann in May 2012, and will rule alongside Fitschen, the 62-year-old Germany chief who has been with the Frankfurt-based bank for the past 24 years.
Jain landed the top job because his department has consistently delivered up to 85 percent of group profit and frequently outperformed peers in challenging market conditions.
The London-based banker with a background in trading could eventually become sole chief as the lender said his contract will be extended by five years until March 31. 2017, while Fitschen’s contract will expire almost two years before that.
Jain, an avid wildlife photographer, has built a loyal following among staff known internally as “Anshu’s army” to describe the legion of traders placing bets on rates, currencies, commodities, debt and equities.
The father of two keeps a low profile. Unlike Ackermann who tends to travel with an entourage of press people and bodyguards, Jain is often seen strolling into conferences alone, sporting a small backpack containing a few presentations or his iPad.
He freely admits that most global investment banks follow very similar strategies and operate in the same, often crowded, markets but is quick to point out Deutsche Bank’s advantages.
“Execution, execution, execution,” he says, often chopping the air with an outstretched palm to emphasize his point.
Jain’s — and Deutsche Bank’s — strength come from his ability to retain staff at the investment bank, a key factor in maintaining market share.
Most of the top 15 investment bankers at Deutsche have been there for more than a decade, sparing the lender the kind of management disruption that has dogged rivals like UBS, Merrill Lynch and others after the financial crisis.
Jain, who joined Deutsche Bank in 1995 from Merrill Lynch, worked his way up to become Deutsche’s highest paid board member, earning 12 million euros ($17.2 million) for his performance in 2010. That topped the 8.99 million euros awarded to Ackermann.
Jain has also been careful to strike a conciliatory note toward regulators and politicians, even though Deutsche Bank did not require a bailout during the financial crisis.
“Investment banks, just like regulators and governments, have to accept that some of their activities contributed to the crisis,” Jain told an audience in Frankfurt last year.
The banker, who was born in Rajasthan, India, has also spent the past years radically recalibrating and downsizing the investment bank.
Between 2009 and 2010, assets at the sales and trading division were cut by more than 40 percent from pre-crisis levels.
Proprietary trading activities were stopped altogether, and value at risk, an industry measure used to calculate the maximum potential loss, was reduced by 55 percent from a pre-crisis peak.
Jain took the helm as co-chief of the investment bank after his mentor, Edson Mitchell, died in a plane crash in December 2000.
He further tightened his grip a year ago, when he installed a 15-member management team of mostly company veterans as part of a reshuffle to integrate a division previously run by former investment banking co-head Michael Cohrs.
Behind the scenes Jain has also played a high-profile role as mediator between business and politics.
He served as a member of the Indian prime minister’s working group on inward investment, and as a member of Deutsche Bank’s team advising the British Treasury on financial stability.
In July last year, Jain was among businessmen who joined UK Prime Minister David Cameron on a networking tour to India.
But Jain has struggled to build a network in Germany, since this was traditionally the stomping ground of either Fitschen or Ackermann.
Since joining Deutsche Bank more than 15 years ago, he has never spoken a word of German at shareholder meetings or public banking events, which has helped foster the impression that he has no interest in German corporate and political dealings.
This has made Juergen Fitschen a natural sparring partner at the helm of the bank.
Fitschen, a German national who studied business administration in Hamburg, held positions in Japan, Thailand and Singapore before becoming Germany chief, has been a member of the management board since 2009.
He has held the position of head of regional management — including Asia — since 2005, but remains one of the worst paid board members, earning a paltry 3 million euros in 2010.