"The two years of the pandemic have changed the attitude of young employees towards our industry"

DWS Bjoern Jesch

Bjoern Jesch
CEO DWS CH AG, Global Head of Multi Asset & Solutions, CIO EMEA

Bjoern Jesch is Chief Executive Officer of DWS CH AG, Global Head of Multi Asset & Solutions, CIO EMEA based in Zurich. He rejoined the company in 2020 with 26 years of industry experience. Prior to rejoining, Bjoern worked as Global Head of Investment Management at Credit Suisse. Before that, he was a CIO & Head of Portfolio Management at Union Investment.


You have been in the investment business practically all your professional life: What is it about the financial markets that fascinates you time and again?
Everyday it’s a new game, and that's part of the fascination of the capital market. There are no fixed rules according to which capital markets function. Every day must be reassessed and, above all, far-reaching decisions must always be made. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can win games like chess or go by means of Deep Learning, but the capital markets and thus also asset management ultimately remain a human domain. However, AI will become a versatile tool for humans in asset management. Yet, it is just as exciting to follow and help shape the technological developments in the areas of crypto and tokenisation.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your daily work?

I believe that the two years of the pandemic have changed the attitude of young employees towards our industry. Whereas the attraction of competition used to be the main reason for many young people to work in the financial industry, now the question of how meaningful one's own actions are has moved in the foreground. This places completely new demands on us as managers. Therefore, it makes me very happy when I can contribute to conveying this meaning with my experience. And it makes me even happier when I see how these colleagues make a career for themselves.

Do you have leadership principles you can share here?

Strengthen strengths. During my career I have learned that there is always room to improve yourself. But it is even more important to empower employees. They should trust in their strengths. Only working on eliminating weaknesses or talking about them does little good.

What are the most difficult decisions you have to make in asset management?

There are a lot of decisions that are difficult to make. Looking into the future and anticipating how certain assets will develop in absolute and relative terms is one of the more complex decision-making processes. And the complexity is only one factor, which must be accompanied by one's own strength to also implement the result of the analysis. Because success always has many fathers and failure is known to be an orphan.

What would you recommend today to someone starting out in asset management or to your younger self?

Not to specialize too early and to remain open to new things. Because, as I said, the capital markets do not know any fixed rules. Who would have thought, for example, that in multi-asset portfolios the diversification between equities and bonds would suddenly no longer function as usual and what great importance would be attached to alternatives and thematic investments? It is important to stay on the ball, to think outside the box and to keep questioning what you have learned.

What do you still want to achieve in your professional career?

I am very satisfied with my career. Supporting young people on their way to professional success is what fulfils me. I also want to continue to contribute to strengthening the equity culture. Even though this is already much more pronounced in Switzerland than in Germany, awareness of the importance of participation in productive capital can still be raised in this country as well.

Where do you find a balance to your exhausting professional life?

My day-to-day work is exhausting, but not tiring, as my three functions as CEO of DWS CH AG, Global Head of Multi Asset & Solutions, and CIO for the EMEA region always provide new challenges and variety. When I want to switch off and recharge my batteries, I'm out in nature, either on foot or on my bike. I have loved the mountains since I was a little boy. Sometimes a good idea or even two fly to me on such excursions. And of course, my great family supports me after a hectic day at work and provides me the most beautiful balance.

You said it: one of your functions is that of CEO of DWS CH AG. How important is this legal entity in Switzerland to you?

Very important, because you can only have long-term success in Switzerland if you don't do things half-heartedly. First and foremost, this includes having your own legal entity like the AG. But it also requires a strong team of competent and experienced professionals who understand and can meet the needs and preferences of local clients. And finally, I consider it indispensable to implement one's own asset management competence locally, as we do with our local fund management in Zurich, for example, with customized mandate solutions for institutional clients.

Can you name three measures to make the Swiss location for asset management even more competitive?

Firstly, it is important to guarantee the attractiveness of the business location through an internationally competitive legal framework. Secondly, the Swiss financial center should take a leading role in sustainable investments, and thirdly, secure access to international markets and promote innovative strength.