What privileges does an MD get

DWS: Where the MDs have had their day forever

The fund house DWS, which is also active in Switzerland, throws the old hierarchies overboard. In the battle for young talent, local competitors may soon have to follow suit.

“I'm no longer Managing Director”: The title, of which he is extremely proud, he gave up last week, announced the senior management of the German fund company DWS on the social media channel. However, the insurance specialist does not seem to feel bitterness about it. "The name is now an expression of my role in the company, and no longer a somewhat stale classification for past performance."

18 months of preparatory work

It remains to be seen whether the 3,500 employees of the Deutsche Bank subsidiary DWS around the world feel the same way. Since March 8th, however, the new functional role framework has been in effect for all of them. The preparations for the internal reorganization took 18 months.

With the framework, the hierarchies, as they are abundantly pronounced almost everywhere in finance, are history in one stroke. This also applies to the management team and such coveted titles as Managing Director (MD).

Culture of achievement

According to DWS, this aims to anchor a clear performance culture in which skills, abilities and experience count more than hierarchies. The new roles should be tailored to the needs of the company and, above all, to those of the customers. Such promises are sometimes thought-provoking, as they raise the question: What did the DWS employees do before?

The fact that with DWS one of the largest fund companies in Europe - the parent company Deutsche Bank is sticking to its Vice President, Directors and Managing Directors - is breaking deeply trodden career paths and titles, should not be underestimated in its signal effect. The reorganization should take effect quickly, especially when it comes to recruiting young talent.

Performance made of passion?

At the Fondshaus, newcomers first take on a functional role and then work their way up the new career path depending on their performance. From a certain technical expertise, this path forks into management tasks and those of senior specialists. Promotions are also possible every six months; certain stages can be skipped right away.

Also of interest is the effect on salary, which is about a lot in finance and which is particularly noticeable for the high-ranking "MDs". According to DWS, remuneration will in future be based much more on performance and no longer on the hierarchical level. "Passion for performance", the notorious slogan of Deutsche Bank from bygone times, takes on a whole new sound.

Realities of the home office

"DWS continues to pay wages in line with the market, and the changeover to functional roles was generally well received in the company," says Sven Württemberger in conversation with finews.ch. The head of sales for Switzerland and Israel, who is well known in the local branch, is now internally filling the role of “Head of Segment”.

His vote should make all those who currently still enjoy their MD rank in Swiss finance, prick up their ears. With the corona crisis, the pace of change in the industry and with it the pressure on the established organization has increased again. Even the leadership principles of yore can no longer stand up to the present in the home office. The "command-control-correction" adopted by the military inevitably gives way to the "leading by objective" when the majority of the team members are at home in front of the screen.

When do the Praetorians surrender?

The first Swiss institutes have since begun to remove management levels. A single Swiss bank even does without a CEO. The principles of agile working, known from the tech industry, are quickly catching on and are now more than lip service from an old guard of managers. This also continues to exist: the major bank UBS still has a “Praetorian Guard” of around 100 Group Managing Directors who enjoy special power and privileges within the group.

For those people, the social media post from the past DWS-MD sounds like a declaration of war: “This is an important step towards a modern, meritocratic company. I applaud him and give him the coveted MD title with pleasure.

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