Russell Reynolds dismisses Egon Zehnder

Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt am Main

There is said to have been a serious conflict between the institute’s supervisory board and Egon Zehnder.

(Photo: dpa)

Frankfurt If Deutsche Bank is looking for new top staff, the Swiss consulting firm Egon Zehnder International is actually considered a set. Ironically, during the prestigious search for a new head of the supervisory board and a new chief risk officer, the bank then also awarded a mandate to the personnel consultancy Russell Reynolds Associates – in the middle of the ongoing search process.

Several people familiar with the facts confirmed this to the Handelsblatt. The decision was preceded by a serious conflict between the bank’s supervisory board and Egon Zehnder, it was said to justify.

The well-known headhunter is said to have been “two-pronged” with at least one of the two Deutsche Bank mandates, so he was also looking for candidates for the exact same job for another financial institution in Switzerland and probably brought congruent candidates into play.

It is unclear whether the dispute was about the search for a new head of the supervisory board or the search for a chief risk officer. Both are possible: In July, the major Swiss bank Credit Suisse announced that David Wildermuth should become the new head of risk by February at the latest. The major Swiss bank UBS, in turn, announced the election of Colm Kelleher as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors on Friday.

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One person told the Handelsblatt that it was about the mandate for a new chief risk officer. At the same time, Egon Zehnder was also looking for a new head of risk for Credit Suisse.

Has Egon Zehnder’s mandate been formally terminated?

It is unknown how exactly Egon Zehnder’s allegedly two-pronged approach was exposed. When Deutsche Bank found out about the parallel search, a few months ago they entrusted Russell Reynolds with the mandate to succeed Paul Achleitner as chairman of the supervisory board and to look for a replacement for Stuart Lewis, chief risk officer.

It is unclear whether Egon Zehnder’s mandate was formally terminated or whether the bank simply stopped communicating with the disgraced HR consultancy. “De facto, the bank then only spoke to Russell Reynolds,” said one of the insiders.

Egon Zehnder did not want to comment on the process when asked by the Handelsblatt. Statements on individual mandates are considered unusual in the industry.

Deutsche Bank announced the nomination of Alexander Wyneandts as the new Chairman of the Supervisory Board on Friday and the election of Olivier Vigneron as the new Chief Risk Officer on Sunday. According to reports, Wyneandts was also on Egon Zehnder’s shortlist early on.

Alexander Wynaendts

Alexander Wynaendts will head the Deutsche Bank Supervisory Board in future.

(Photo: Thorsten Jochim for Handelsblatt)

The two prestige mandates from Deutsche Bank are an important success for Russell Reynolds. The personnel consultancy has decided to catch up with the alleged market leader Egon Zehnder.

In September of this year, Matthias Scheiff took over Russell Reynolds’ business in Germany. Scheiff is considered to be particularly well connected in the big banking scene. The search is likely to have been carried out by a whole team from the personnel consultancy.

As complex as the prehistory was, Deutsche Bank expressed its satisfaction with the result. CEO Christian Sewing praised the Achleitner successor Wynaendts as “a real European and expert on the international financial scene”. He praised Mayree Clark, who had designed the successor process for Achleitner in the nomination committee, for “how structured and confidently” she had proceeded.

At Risk Manager Vigneron, he emphasized his “great experience and extensive specialist knowledge” and emphasized that Vigneron knew Deutsche Bank: from 2002 to 2005 he worked in the structured credit business.

More: Deutsche Bank and UBS send these signals with their top personalities

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