Cultural change begins at the top – that seems to be the message that Deutsche Bank has reluctantly accepted on Sunday when its overseers appointed John Cryan, a British banker, to succeed Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen as the bank’s chief executive.
Independent, detail-oriented and calm under pressure, as well as introverted, shy and maybe a bit boring, is how investors and some acquaintances described the U.K. national charged with pulling Germany’s largest bank out of its post-financial crisis slump.
In many ways, Mr. Cryan is the antithesis of one of the men he will be replacing, Mr. Jain, who made a career as a flamboyant investment banker in London, embodying the generation of go-go bankers whose actions led collectively to the 2008 financial crisis.
By contrast, Mr. Cryan – a consultant rather than investment banker by trade – remains relatively untarnished by the excesses and hubris that characterized Wall Street and London for much of the early 2000s.
Instead, he quietly built a reputation as something of a turnaround specialist.
Mr. Cryan has one other edge over the Indian-British national Mr. Jain: He speaks German, the result of spending a few years as a banking consultant in Munich early in his career.
“I know of nobody else who works problems and solutions with such a love of detail, coolness, precision and long-term perspective…and who sticks to his principles even under pressure,” said one top manager at a financial competitor, who has worked with Mr. Cryan in the past but declined to be named.
Deutsche Bank could use a bit of boring after years of tumult. That at least seems to be the view of the investors and shareholders, who helped topple the bank’s current leadership duo by revolting at an annual meeting earlier this year.
The bank’s share price rose more than 8 percent in Monday morning trading, the most in two years, before falling back slightly in the following hours. At 11:30 central European time, the share price remained up more than 5 percent on the day.
“It marks a very big chance for Deutsche Bank to end all discussions and problems with one strike,” said Martin Stürner, head of Frankfurt-based investment fund PEH Wertpapier. “The bank has potential, its stock is undervalued, trading below its book value. We will think about additional purchases on Monday.”