Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Turnover hits Deutsche Bank's US mutual fund unit amid outflows

A Deutsche Bank AG logo sits on a sign for an automated teller machine (ATM) in Berlin, Germany.
Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Deutsche Bank's bid to revive its American wealth management unit hasn't been entirely smooth.

The bank considered selling the business in late 2011 but cancelled the plans in 2012 as Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen become co-chief executives last June. Deutsche Bank also combined the overall asset and wealth management units and put longtime executive Michele Faissola in charge last year as part of the restructuring.

This year, the Frankfurt-based bank has seen turnover of New York-based executives as U.S. capital continues to leave Deutsche Bank's mutual funds, which are branded DWS Investments.

The latest move involves DWS U.S. CEO Michael Woods, who recently departed, according to people familiar with the situation. Woods joined in 2009 as U.S. head of distribution, a business development role.

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More recently, Woods was head of Americas for the global client group and oversaw non-investment functions for DWS, which is a unit of Deutsche Bank's asset and wealth management division. Global investors added $1.7 billion to DB's 132 funds this year through Oct. 31, but U.S. money declined by $7.3 billion, according to Morningstar.

DWS managed $343.9 billion in global assets as of Sept. 30; $101.6 billion of that was from U.S. investors. That's less than around the time Woods was hired: DWS managed $117.7 billion in U.S. capital on June 30, 2009 (global assets were $307.1 billion).

Woods' reason for leaving and future plans were unclear. He and a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Woods is one of several U.S. management changes this year. Jerry Miller, Woods' former boss, was appointed head of Asset & Wealth Management Americas in May. He had been a senior advisor at private equity firm Lightyear Capital.

A more recent hire was Invesco executive Brian Binder, who joined the bank Dec. 3 as president of DWS Funds and head of fund administration in the US. Binder replaced former DWS president Doug Beck, who left in September to be head of investment capability management at Fidelity Investments. Binder reports to Miller.

DWS assets are less than a third of the overall wealth and asset management unit, which had $1.26 trillion under management globally as of Sept. 30. The largest DWS fund, $1.96 billion DWS Managed Municipal Bonds Fund, is down 4.17 percent this year. The largest stock-focused offering, DWS Equity Dividend Fund, is up 24.24 percent.

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Analysts also don't see the money management and advisory group as a critical business line for Deutsche Bank.

"It's never going to be a real needle-mover for the company," said Erin Davis, a senior equity analyst at Morningstar who tracks global banks.

Davis said investment, retail and commercial banking was much more important to the bank's financial health and that she isn't concerned with the U.S. management changes like Woods, Miller and Binder. She has a three-star rating out of five on the bank, meaning it is fairly valued.

Regardless, performance for the global asset and wealth management platform has been positive this year. Income before taxes was about $389 million in the third quarter, about $113 million in the second quarter and about $305 million in the first quarter.

The unit expansion plans are focused on growing three business lines, according to a person familiar with the unit: Its equity mutual fund business (DB hired former Morgan Stanley portfolio manager Richard Glass in August); its passive business (DB recently launched several exchange-traded fund products); and its alternatives (senior-level hires were made recently in real estate and private equity investing, for example).

Deutsche Bank ranks eighth among private banks in terms of assets managed. UBS is No. 1 at $1.7 trillion; Bank of America Merrill Lynch is second at $1.6 trillion; and Wells Fargo is third at $1.4 trillion as of yearend 2012, according to a Scorpio Partnership study. DB had $387 billion.

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—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne. Follow him on Twitter @ldelevingne.