Deutsche wants more global custodian clients

de Maintenant says, unlike his sub-custody rivals, Deutsche Bank doesn''t cut the globals'' grass.

Thibaud de Maintenant is the new head of product and client management for Deutsche Bank's Asian custody business. Prior to taking up the job in Singapore he held the same role in Europe, overseeing custody in The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Spain and Italy. He has been with Deutsche Bank for five years and reports to the bank's global head of domestic custody services, Roger Harrold, who is also based in Singapore. Here, de Maintenant talks about the bank's Asian custody footprint, its client acquisition strategy and plans for the future.

What's the main difference between Deutsche Bank's Asian custody portfolio and the one you oversaw in Europe?

de Maintenant: Out of the 13 countries in our European network I was covering five countries whereas the Asian footprint is bigger for me, covering a total of 13 countries. I suppose the biggest difference is the outlook. My task in Asia is to grow revenue and increase our client base. In Europe the job was about preserving profits and containing costs.

How big is your custody portfolio in Asia, that's Asian-sourced assets?

Our total assets under custody for the region is progressing nicely with a double digit growth year on year. We have a nice balance of accounts from fund managers, global custodians and the banks or broker/dealers. Our biggest countries are India, Indonesia and Korea but we also have a presence in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. We have 300 staff across the region and we expect to increase this number this year by more than 10%.

Which countries will you focus on?

We're positioning our offering as a regional/cross-border offering unless there is opportunities in a particular market, we will review it.

What sort of revenue growth is Deutsche custody recording?

We've recorded double digit revenue growth and asset growth year-on-year for 3 years. And we want to continue in this tradition.

What client segments will you be focusing on?

We want to develop our market share in global custodians. Our proposition is that we are dedicated to providing sub-custody services in the region and, unlike some of our rivals, we don't want to compete with global custodians. That means we can go that extra mile to provide services to these clients.

The second part of our strategy is to increase our involvement with local clients. We have about a 50/50 mix of cross border and local clients now and we want to increase our involvement with local clients particularly bringing value added products to them such as fund administration, securities lending and outsourcing. On the broker/dealer side we are happy with our strategy. Deutsche Bank is a major broker/dealer in its own right and we service that side of the business. But we also have a good mix of third party clients and we will continue to look for opportunities in this segment.

What's your client retention strategy?

We have a very high retention rate. We pick up a lot of new business from existing clients which adds an incremental growth dimension to our portfolio. But generally we are focused on client acquisition. Again, our proposition is that Deutsche Bank is a credible alternative provider which puts us in a unique position.

What new products have you launched recently?

We have released several new products that focus on fund administration, portfolio management and reporting. We now have a web platform that gives clients information on their funds and the settlement of these funds on a multi-regional basis. This is called db-direct Custody and we rolled this out last year. This is helping us to increase STP rates for trade settlement.

Would Deutsche Bank consider making an acquisition in Asia to grow its business?

We bought Dresdner's custody business in Europe because it was the right thing to do at the time and we took the opportunity. So we are open to non-organic growth options. If there was a good book of business that was either focused on a local market or was regional we would look at it.

What is your China strategy?

We have high expectations for this market in the long term. We have our QFII licence and we also received a licence last year to service insurance companies that are investing abroad. This is a complex market highly regulated and with many specific requirements for repatriation of funds. Regulations are continually under review and we are optimistic that over time this will become a major domestic and cross border market.

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