wA shareholder of the publicly traded fund company DWS recently asked the annual general meeting how they came up with Stefan Hoops. Karl von Rohr, chairman of the supervisory board of DWS and deputy chief executive Christian Sewing of Deutsche Bank, did not answer the legitimate question. This is not the topic of the general meeting, he decided harshly. So who is this Stefan Hoops, what qualifies him and what resistance awaits him as Asoka Wöhrmann’s successor?
Let’s start with the qualifications: Hoops is often described as an internal creation of Deutsche Bank. It is almost right, but only almost. From July 2006 to the end of 2007, Hoops worked for a well-known address, albeit in the negative: Lehman Brothers Bankhaus AG in Frankfurt, according to the banker’s profile in the LinkedIn professional network. As with Deutsche Bank early in his career, he also sold fixed income financial products at Lehman.
Then it gets exciting for Hoops: back at Deutsche Bank, he changes sides of the Atlantic. At the New York office, he initially worked in securitization trading. Securitization, there was something: it is the same tool that has plunged banks around the world, driven by greed and without reason, into the financial crisis. Her former employer Lehman went bankrupt and Deutsche Bank was one of the few institutions to survive the financial crisis on both sides of the Atlantic without using taxpayers’ money to bail it out. He gave her a culture that, in retrospect, didn’t suit her, but that’s another story. And Hoops, just 30, was still working on the “cleanup job” of the financial crisis at the epicenter of the subprime mortgage crisis, Wall Street in New York. As Head of North America Structured Solutions, he worked extensively on the settlement units of major American banks following the financial crisis before returning to Frankfurt in 2011.
Front row seat for toxic products
At a young age, Hoops had seen from a front row seat how bankers shouldn’t act. This qualifies him for his work at DWS, which is also said to declare his products more sustainable than they actually are. The allegations are not yet proven, but they are serious enough that the Public Prosecutor’s Office searched the business premises of DWS, as well as those of the parent company Deutsche Bank. Hoops has nothing to do with the past. But no accusations of greenwashing or other misconduct can be repeated. And Hoops can’t justify not knowing anything. He saw the depths of the financial sector, the toxic products, the abyss with his own eyes.
What else qualifies Hoops to run one of the largest fund companies in Europe? Hoops is transparent: in a video he reveals to students that his favorite hobbies are basketball, sheepskin and weight lifting. He’s open to showing up for an interview in white socks with a suit because he didn’t have any blacks on hand, but he still got the job. It is this kind of clarity that Hoops will need to wash away any spots of possible DWS greening.
Confident in the shark tank
It takes a lot of self-confidence to do this in the shark tank of the financial world. And truly, Hoops is not lacking in confidence. The introductory speech he gave at DWS’s annual general meeting alone proves this. “I look forward to reporting to you at next year’s 2023 Annual General Meeting on the progress we have made in keeping DWS on its successful path over the past few years and taking it even further.” a clear message, because it will not be easy to build on Asoka Wöhrmann’s successes, especially since the geopolitical environment has drastically worsened since Russia invaded Ukraine, central banks are making more expensive money and stock markets are in correction mode .
It can be said that Hoops likes to lift weights, even when wearing a suit – the new DWS garment is bursting with strength. However, he will also need them, which leads us to potential obstacles. Because internally, it is important to overcome the resistances first. In the fund company, people love to be with each other. The fact that the main shareholder is Deutsche Bank is often ignored. This explains the popularity of Asoka Wöhrmann: among the fund managers he was considered one of them. However, Hoops has a reputation that the head of Deutsche Bank Sewing sends to his loyalists and gets their hands on DWS again. Hoops will need all his strength to get the employees to his side and to give the fund company a clean sweep again.
It is not an easy task. But Hoops, in his early forties, must have thought carefully about his career move: he will have to see and hear many new things. And he’s no longer what he’s still early in his career, as he was in the New York financial crisis, but he’s the head of a fund company that manages nearly $ 1 trillion in assets. There is a different level of fall. It remains to be seen whether the shooting star’s career at Deutsche Bank will be damaged or whether he will further promote it. After all, Stefan Hoops has already been traded as Sewing’s successor.