Anshu Jain, the Indian-born banker who helped build Deutsche Bank’s investment bank into a global powerhouse and ran Germany’s flagship bank for three years until 2015, has died after a serious illness. He was 59.
Jain died early on Saturday after suffering from stomach cancer for five years. He left Deutsche in July 2015, and joined Cantor Fitzgerald as president in January 2017 and helped build up its advisory and sales and trading businesses.
Cricket-lover Jain was widely praised as one of the leading investment bankers of his generation. He was an early pioneer of derivatives and led Deutsche’s global markets and investment bank for more than a decade, helping build Deutsche into Europe’s pre-eminent investment bank.
"Anyone who worked with Anshu experienced a passionate leader of intellectual brilliance. His energy and loyalty to the bank left a great impression on many of us,” Deutsche CEO Christian Sewing said in a statement.
For former IFR journalist (and now headteacher) Alex Crossman, Jain's personal qualities mattered as much as his professional achievements. Crossman worked for Deutsche – really for Jain – as head of strategy for global markets from 2001 to 2010.
"There is no question that Anshu was a demanding boss, but people who focused on his drive, or even his intellect, missed his finest qualities," he told IFR. "In a business where ‘relationship’ is too often understood as nothing more than a series of transactions, Anshu sincerely believed in and valued relationships. In the 10 years since I left banking, there was never an email, a text message or a phone call that went unreturned. That’s the Anshu that people who worked with him most closely will remember for the rest of our lives."
Jain made his name during a 20-year career at Deutsche. He joined in 1995 as a 32-year-old banker, leaving Wall Street behemoth Merrill Lynch for what was widely regarded then as a sleepy European lender focused primarily on the German Mittelstand.
He had started his career at Kidder Peabody in 1985 and spent three years there in derivatives research before joining Merrill in 1988, where he spent seven years and met his mentor Edson Mitchell. When Mitchell left for Deutsche one of his first moves was to persuade Jain to follow and help him build the pre-eminent European investment bank.
And that’s what they did, alongside investment bank chief Josef Ackermann. Jain started as head of Deutsche’s institutional clients group, then took over as head of fixed income for emerging markets.
After Mitchell died in a plane crash at the end of 2000, Jain took over as head of global markets, which he ran for nine years.
Deutsche’s ambitions had been aided by the purchase of Bankers Trust in 1999, and the markets business grew exponentially. Derivatives were a major part of that growth during a period of huge product innovation, and Jain drove the rise. The bank’s credit derivatives trading volumes, for example, multiplied eight-fold between 1997 and 2000.
When Ackermann was promoted to CEO, he appointed Jain to co-run the investment bank in September 2004, alongside Michael Cohrs. Revenues continued to surge, led by the trading business under Jain. The bank became known as a "flow monster" that captured a big share of trading flows. Jain's trading operation also became known for a take-no-prisoners culture where corners were cut and rules circumvented or ignored. Profits were the only thing that mattered (although in the longer term many of the trades weren't profitable at all).
And then the shine came off spectacularly during the 2007–08 financial crisis. Leverage had been a big driver of returns, and banks were required to more than double their capital requirements, slashing returns and requiring firms to make big strategic changes. Deutsche survived without any direct government help, but critics say that meant it was far slower to adapt to the new landscape, and meant it was still struggling to turnaround its fortunes when Jain was made co-CEO in 2012 alongside Juergen Fitschen.
For all his intellectual brilliance, Jain was slow to appreciate that the world had changed. He was convinced that Deutsche simply needed to stay the course and that if it retained its position as the leading provider of liquidity in FICC and other markets it would soon rake in outsize profits as others retreated.
Jain’s legacy as the man (alongside Ackermann) most responsible for the modern Deutsche is therefore a mixed one. Building the bank into a genuine challenger to the US giants was a remarkable achievement, but the crisis revealed that its foundations were less than secure – and his successors have spent years trying to shore them up.
Critics question the way the Jain-era markets business (and later the whole bank) paid its people and accounted for its P&L, its myriad (and incompatible) trading systems and a dog-eat-dog attitude where teams competed against each other for resources, clients and Jain’s attention. The bank was fined many billions of dollars by a host of different authorities for infractions before, during and after the crisis (although it was hardly alone in that). In May 2015, Deutsche settled charges levied by the US Securities and Exchange Commission that alleged it misstated financial filings. Some saw that as the final straw that convinced the bank’s board to remove Jain as CEO after just three years in the role.
But there’s no question that many admired him, just as Crossman did. Jo-anne Le Brocq, head of communications at Deutsche, recalled a lengthy standing ovation at his last client event. “I stood, looked around the room and could see many people like me, with a lump in their throat,” she said in a post on LinkedIn.
Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick said when Jain joined five years ago he was a “consummate professional” who brought a wealth of experience and wisdom to the firm. “He will be remembered as an extraordinary leader, partner, and dear friend who will be greatly missed by all of us and by all who knew him,” Lutnick said.
Born in Jaipur and raised in Delhi – where he received a bachelor's degree in economics – Jain was known for his energy, enthusiasm and humour. But he wasn't always easy to work for or with.
In an era when working for an investment bank demanded extraordinary commitment, he was more demanding than most. He did not suffer those he considered foolish gladly. And while he could be exceptionally charming and surprisingly patient when he wanted to – often when dealing with IFR journalists – he could just as often be rather grand. He understood the power of the media (especially the trade press) and poached another IFR journalist to work for him after Crossman – and later tried to hire one more.
His quiet charisma is captured by two things: one, that he was universally known by his first name (like Elvis, Beyonce and Madonna); two, that many people working in banking and beyond had "Anshu stories" they loved to retell. The stories weren't always complimentary – and many were no doubt exaggerated – but the fact that they were told is a testament to his magnetism. People don't usually tell stories about bankers.
Jain also had an obsession with cricket and would hold court in the Deutsche box at Lord's. It was very much the place to be for retired cricketers, celebrities, rival bankers and captains of industry (and the occasional journalist) – especially when England were playing his beloved India.
Many Antipodean software engineers passing through London who boasted half-decent cricket skills would be offered jobs and spots on Deutsche's cricket team (although they'd then have to wrestle with the dilemma of how aggressively to bowl to Jain in the nets).
He often had cricket paraphernalia in his office. Deutsche was named IFR’s Bank of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2010. On one occasion, during a pitch on the bank’s achievements, IFR’s editor picked up one of the many cricket bats in his office for a game of shadow cricket. An IFR reporter paced out his bowling run up. And Jain took his position in the field.
Not a statistic
Jain’s family said he was diagnosed with duodenal cancer in January 2017 and outlived his initial diagnosis by four years. “To his last day, Anshu stood by his lifelong determination to ‘not be a statistic’,” his family said in a statement.
He was the first ever non-European to lead Deutsche, was named the Economic Times’ Global Indian of the Year in 2012, and became a London Business School honorary fellow in 2014.
Jain was a lifelong vegetarian and loved wildlife photography, safaris in Kenya’s Masai Mara, and wilderness conservation. He played golf and had a handicap of nine.
His family said he loved Bollywood movies, PG Wodehouse, old fighter planes, dancing and red wine.
He is survived by his wife Geetika, and two children.