Best Global bank 2011: Deutsche's Ackermann confounds his critics ...again
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Best Global bank 2011: Deutsche's Ackermann confounds his critics ...again

For almost 10 years Josef Ackermann has regularly proved his critics wrong. His latest retort has been to rebalance Deutsche Bank's business mix and maintain returns within a much-changed investment bank. But can he meet the aggressive new targets he has set?

JOSEF ACKERMANN PAUSES, a slight smile spreading across his face. "People ask me why I make such firm commitments to achieve specific goals," he says. "My answer is it gives transparency to the market, it rallies the troops behind a target and, if you achieve it, you earn a great deal of respect."

What Ackermann does not say is that making commitments gives his critics something to aim at. But what his critics don’t get, and what he does, is that when he sets himself a goal, he usually achieves it. Ackermann has made a career out of proving people wrong.

In the past year he has pulled off perhaps his greatest masterstroke: rebalancing Deutsche Bank away from an over-reliance on its all-firing international investment bank, back towards to its German, retail roots. Acquisitions undertaken over the past year have transformed Deutsche at the group level, while solving several of its most intractable problems at a business-line level.

Most of these problems have proved to be more perception than reality: too much risk on the balance sheet; an over-reliance on trading revenue; an inability to make acquisitions work.