The example of Josef Ackermann
When Josef Ackermann came to Deutsche Bank, he was internally praised as the best banker on this planet. Almost 20 years later, his resignation as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zurich Insurance symbolized the end of a career.
Like many other self-confident and for many years highly successful managers, Ackermann did not understand how to stop in time. He just had every opportunity to say goodbye with persistent "standing ovations". He had recognized many aberrations earlier than others and showed "late regret", as his former communications chief Stefan Baron describes in his book about Ackermann. But his departure was not enough for the Swiss.
The merit of the communications chief
Josef Ackermann, the man who became synonymous with the German big banker during his tenure, has always been responsible for a variety of headlines and public debates. Sometimes he came away well, much more badly.
For many years, however, his reputation was not so bad in the general public, which was also Baron's merit. "Joe," as he's shortened, is the man with the unspeakable "Victory" sign in the Mannesmann trial.
A question of timing
He is also the one who did not want to leave Deutsche Bank in a human-unfathomable power struggle, the manager of the financial crisis, who in the end was not as well-liked by the Chancellor as at the beginning.
And he was the supervisory board of Siemens, which fought there violently with his old friend, the Siemens supervisory board chairman Gerhard Cromme. There were always good reasons for Ackermann's behavior. Sometimes he was just unlucky. But in the end everything was a matter of timing.
Chronicle of a resignation
The World Banker married to a Finn, who has always felt that he is on an equal footing with all the powerful in the world, can be credited with numerous roles - for he has worked on many stages.
With his resignation from the Board of Directors of Zurich Insurance, the curtain fell. But Ackermann's most important stage was the Deutsche Bank, and there his farewell dragged on for agonizingly long years. At first, Ackermann had already suggested his resignation at the 2009 Annual General Meeting to the former Supervisory Board Chairman Clemens Börsig.
When friendships break
However, since Ackermann, referring to the German Stock Corporation Act, did not see it as his task to build up a successor, there was no clear favorite on the fast track. As a result, Börsig examined its own change from the Supervisory Board to the Management Board, which satisfied only a few.
The fact that Ackermann finally extended his contract for three years at the request of the Supervisory Board did not prevent the quarrel between Börsig and him. And this strained relationship should damage the reputation of the bank (and ultimately also that of Ackermann) in the years to come.
From the good reputation of the bank
Shortly after the hiccup around the contract extension Ackermanns it came to the so-called spy scandal, in which it was about the exploration of a critical shareholder. The suspicion that Börsig had set these investigations in motion, was not confirmed by the investigations of the prosecutor and the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority Bafin. Nevertheless, deep scratches on the image of the Deutsche Bank and also some internal dispute remained.
The reputation of the institute has suffered from further scandals and affairs afterwards. While most of the associated legal risks are attributable to investment banking formerly managed by Anshu Jain. But as CEO, Ackermann also has a responsibility.
Especially as he said at the 2006 Annual General Meeting - in the spirit of Otto Scharmer - "No business deal in the world is worth jeopardizing Deutsche Bank's reputation." In the truth of daily banking, however, she saw the world, as we know by now, very different.
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