Anshu Jain: the CEO of the bank who turned off his phone on vacation

Anshu Jain, the former CEO of Deutsche Bank who died of cancer at just 59, had plenty to be appreciated.

Under his leadership, Deutsche not only paid well, it paid extravagantly. Jain himself would have earned up to $30 million per year in the peak years of the late 1990s and early 2000s; Deutsche Bank traders regularly earned between $10 million and $20 million a year. Some won even more: Christian Bittar, a 36-year-old French rates trader who was one of Jain’s favorites won $140 million for a single year shortly before the financial crisis (and before it was subsequently imprisoned nor manipulation of the euribor). Under Jain, Deutsche traders were paid and praised; in 2007 he brought in the Rolling Stones to play for them at a concert in Barcelona.

But it is not for his generosity that Jain is praised today: it is for his character. Despite being one of the highest paid bankers of a generation, Jain is celebrated as a humble, intellectual, aesthete – who also really, really wanted to win.

James Davies, Deutsche’s current investment banking director for the Americas, says he first met Anshu while playing cricket, where Jain was knocked to the ground by a ‘first ball bouncer’ , to get up and face the next ball. “The qualities he showed on the court – leadership, courage, loyalty and a fierce desire to win were hallmarks of his attitude on the court,” Davies said.

Garth Ritchiethe former head of investment banking at Deutsche, says Jain will be remembered for his “intellect and competitive nature” and that he is grateful for all “teaching, coaching” and the “give me putts” that Jain gave him.

Although Jain liked earning money as a sign of success, he didn’t fit the stereotype of the spendthrift banker. He lived in a “relatively modest” home in west London while at DB and was born into the Jain ascetic religion. He ate neither meat nor animal products. He loved wildlife and animal photography. His dad seems to have been similar: Anshu reportedly bought his dad a BMW and paid a driver, but his dad didn’t use them and bought himself a Tata Nano instead.

While Jain could be fiercely competitive (and often set up people competing for the same role at Deutsche Bank), Anshu’s friends testify to his kindness, humanity, and generosity. One says he helped his wife when she fell ill in 2018 and shared all the research and contacts he had made during his own battle with cancer.

Jain left Deutsche Bank in 2015 and became chairman of Cantor Fitzgerald in 2017, the same year he was diagnosed with cancer. Despite his illness, he continued to appear at public events, speaking at the World Economic Forum in 2020. When his cancer was diagnosed in January 2017, he had one year left to live, but his the family said he survived this “thanks to a combination of extensive personal research, tactical skill, incredible caregivers and strength of will”.

Yet Jain also knew how to relax. Andrew Kent, the former European head of equity index volatility trading, said Anshu told him he always turned off his phone when he was on safari vacation so he could spend time with his family.

Anshu is survived by his wife and two children, Aranya and Arjun. Arjun works in venture capital after starting his career at JPMorgan. Aranya is working in publishing after a year selling cross-assets at Goldman Sachs.

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