Deutsche Bank says it plans to leverage its September acquisition of Zurich Scudder Investments and its hiring last week of a former Putnam executive to build a brand presence for its asset management unit in North America.
Deutsche Bank said it plans to use its Scudder Funds, which has $257 billion of assets under management, as the cornerstone for a U.S. asset management edifice.
"Deutsche didn't have a brand presence in the United States markets, particularly on the retail side, before we bought Scudder," said William Shiebler, chief executive officer of Deutsche Asset Management's operations in the Americas. "Scudder is an established brand name."
The German banking company, which has $470 billion in assets under management worldwide, lured Shiebler, the former president and CEO of Putnam Mutual Funds, out of retirement to make it a player in the competitive U.S. arena. Before joining Putnam in 1989, Shiebler had worked 12 years at Dean Witter.
Shiebler retired in 1999 and since has been on the boards of several charities. He said Friday that he had not planned on coming back to the financial services business but that late last year he met with Thomas Hughes, global president of Deutsche Asset Management.
"We have a substantial business on the horizon in Europe, and we are a player in Asia. But if you want to be a global company, you must have a significant branded product in the United States markets," Shiebler said. "They always intended to find someone senior to run that part of the business."
Analysts raised the concern, however, that perhaps Shiebler is too senior. Geoffrey Bobroff, president of Bobroff Consulting Inc. in East Greenwich, R.I., said Shiebler is a talented marketer with a good track record but has been out of the game since 1999.
"While he was quite successful at Putnam and Dean Witter, he was successful in a different market environment," Bobroff said. "The bank, by recruiting someone of his stature, is really making a statement to the market. ... and now he is facing a significant challenge."
Shiebler said he plans to expand the business organically, similar to his approach at Putnam in the 1990s. He said that, like Putnam, Scudder and Deutsche have excellent capabilities in both the institutional and retail markets. Now, he said, it is just a matter of getting advisers and investors to recognize this.
Bobroff said this would be an uphill task. "Scudder and Deutsche are not like Alliance or Aim or Putnam," he said. "Deutsche is unknown in the U.S. marketplace. To the average Joe, it isn't an American asset management firm, it is a German bank."