Deutsche Bank is hailing its asset and wealth management division as potentially its most important business, having failed to sell the latter part only last year.
The German bank’s co-chief executives, Anshu Jain and Jurgen Fitschen, conducted a strategic review of businesses after being jointly appointed last year and last June the decision was made to combine its asset and wealth management units.
The integrated unit has subsequently been restructured and is headed by Michele Faissola. It came after negotiations for a partial sale of its asset management business to US-based Guggenheim Partners broke down.
That deal had included DWS Americas, DB Advisors, Deutsche Insurance Asset Management and RREEF – which all now form part of its asset and wealth management division.
In a specially convened press gathering in Frankfurt this week, co-CEO Jain told AsianInvestor: “I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that this may well be one of the most important, if not the single most important, division that we have made.
“If you think of some of our competitors… they have stopped every other business and dedicated themselves fully not just to asset and wealth management, but wealth management.”
In late 2012, Swiss rival Credit Suisse folded its asset management and private banking business into one, restructuring its investment bank in a drive to make cost savings of $1.1 billion.
Last July, Deutsche announced job cuts for 1,900 people, including 1,500 in investment banking as part of its bid to cut costs by €3 billion ($3.7 billion).
In Asia, one of the most prominent executives affected was Andrew Kwek, former Singapore CEO of Deutsche Asset Management and Asia head of sales for DWS, the firm’s retail business, who exited in March.
In Frankfurt this week, Faissola said he does not expect any major restructuring in the future. “It’s now about investing in the business and making this an important pillar of the group,” he added.
The cuts form part of DeAWM’s strategy to more than double its pre-tax profit to €1.7 billion by 2015, from its €700 million pre-tax profit levels in 2012.
Although admitting this is an ambitious growth strategy, Jain reaffirmed it had no plans to acquire a new business to achieve its goal, including in Asia.
“We have chosen 2015 [to deliver our pre-profit target] and frankly until we attain that goal, I think we have to stay organic, stay very focused,” he said. “It’s tough to have the discipline to deliver while going through the acquisition of another target – no matter how tempting.”
By the end of the first quarter, Deutsche’s asset and wealth management business had seen net inflows of €6 billion globally, compared with net redemptions of €7 billion in 2011 and €22 billion in 2012.
The division's strategy is to enhance its presence particularly in selected markets, with plans to grow revenues in Asia-Pacific and Latin America by 20-25% through 2015. Part of Deutsche's effort will be targeted at the growing number of wealthy individuals in Asia, said Ravi Raju, head of asset and wealth management in Asia-Pacific.
Deutsche’s global wealth management coverage is relatively small in Asia, with 14% of its €297 billion in AUM sourced from Asian clients.
At present its global wealth management coverage has 270 relationship and investment specialists serving 7,000 clients in the region. Germany remains its major market, accounting for 45% of its assets.
Swiss private bank Julius Baer has estimated that since 2012, the number of high-net-worth individuals in Asia (ex-Japan) has risen to 2.2 million, from 1.9 million last year. China’s HNWI population increased to 1.08 million in 2013, from 885,000.