DWS 2020: Highly Successful in Difficult Times, Medium-Term Targets Achieved Ahead of Plan

Asoka Woehrmann, CEO
“2020 was another very good year for DWS. We attracted record net inflows and were able to achieve the ambitious medium-term targets that were set for phase 1 of our corporate journey as a listed company. Looking ahead, we will invest to transform our firm to meet the challenges of tomorrow. And we will invest to grow, in businesses, regions and trends, where we believe we can lead our industry.”

Claire Peel, CFO
“Our strong focus on cost management has paid off: We managed down our adjusted cost base by 11 percent in 2020, reaching our target for the adjusted Cost-Income Ratio of below 65 percent in a sustainable manner. In addition, we increased our adjusted profit before tax by 3 percent and our net income by 9 percent. Based on our strong results, we will again raise our dividend proposal.”

Business Development

2020 has been another strong year for DWS. We proved our resilience and the strength of our diversified business model amid the ongoing pandemic. As a result, we have achieved our ambitious medium-term targets, set at our IPO in 2018, one year earlier than planned, completing the first phase of our corporate journey as a publicly listed firm. We increased net flows to EUR 30 billion in 2020. Assets under Management also increased by EUR 25 billion year-on-year to a record volume of EUR 793 billion. Our laser focus on cost efficiency also continues to pay off, with our adjusted cost base declining significantly compared to the prior year. As a result, we delivered our adjusted Cost-Income Ratio target of below 65 percent ahead of schedule. While management fees remained stable, the absence of certain fund performance fees recognized in 2019 led to a year-on-year decrease in revenues. On the bottom-line, adjusted profit before tax increased by 3 percent and net income rose by 9 percent in FY 2020. In line with our 65 to 75 percent dividend payout ratio target, the DWS Executive Board will propose a dividend of EUR 1.81 per share for the 2020 financial year.

Total revenues decreased by 6 percent to EUR 2,237 million in 2020 (FY19: EUR 2,389 million). This was due to the absence of certain performance fees recognized in 2019, while management fees remained stable. In Q4 2020 total revenues increased by 8 percent to EUR 605 million (Q3 2020: EUR 558 million), mainly driven by higher Management fees as a result of increased average Assets under Management during the quarter.

Adjusted profit before tax improved by 3 percent to EUR 795 million in 2020 (FY19: EUR 774 million) as we reduced our adjusted cost base. In Q4 2020 the adjusted profit before tax stood at EUR 212 million (Q3: EUR 215 million), driven by higher adjusted costs. After tax, DWS posted a 9 percent higher net income of EUR 558 million for the financial year 2020 (FY19: EUR 512 million; Q4 2020: EUR 164 million; Q3 2020: EUR 151 million). The Executive Board will propose again an increased dividend of EUR 1.81 per share for the financial year 2020 (FY19: EUR 1.67), in line with our commitment to a 65 to 75 percent dividend payout ratio.

Assets under Management (AuM) further rose by EUR 33 billion to EUR 793 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q3 2020: EUR 759 billion) with favorable market developments as the main driver supported by net flows. Starting with AuM of EUR 767 billion at the beginning of 2020, the annual increase of EUR 25 billion was driven by a combination of strong net inflows and positive market developments, more than offsetting the negative impact of exchange rate movements.

2020 net flows of EUR 30.3 billion were higher than strong prior year net inflows of EUR 26.1 billion. 2020 flow numbers peaked in the fourth quarter, which contributed EUR 13.6 billion (EUR 8.3 billion excluding Cash) in net new assets. 2020 net inflows were primarily driven by Passive (EUR 16.6 billion) and Cash products (EUR 19.5 billion) and further supported by Alternatives (EUR 4.0 billion). Based on their strong performance, ESG-dedicated funds accounted for 30 percent of our total annual net inflows in 2020. All three coverage regions, Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific, achieved net inflows in the fourth quarter as well as in 2020.

Active Asset Management ex Cash recorded net flows of EUR 767 million in the fourth quarter (Q3 2020: minus EUR 935 million). Multi Asset generated inflows of EUR 787 million driven by institutional mandates. Active Equity recorded net inflows of EUR 236 million with inflows into ESG equity funds. Active Fixed Income continued the positive flow trend with net new assets of EUR 146 million due to continued high demand by institutional mandates. Active SQI recorded net outflows of minus EUR 402 million. In total, Active Asset Management ex Cash recorded net outflows of minus EUR 9.8 billion in 2020 (FY19: minus EUR 0.7 billion). While Active Equity generated positive net flows in FY 2020, the other Active (ex Cash) product classes recorded outflows, reflecting the challenging market environment in 2020. Cash products recorded high net inflows of EUR 19.5 billion in 2020 (FY19: minus EUR 2.5 billion) and EUR 5.3 billion in Q4 as investors sought safe havens amid market uncertainty given the prevailing pandemic.

Passive Asset Management generated net flows of EUR 5.9 billion in the fourth quarter (Q3 2020: EUR 6.3 billion). The continued strong flow momentum again was driven by high demand for ETPs (exchange-traded funds and commodities). All in all, this high demand led to Passive Asset Management generating strong inflows of EUR 16.6 billion in 2020 (FY19: EUR 19.1 billion). DWS ranked second in ETP net flows in Europe in the fourth quarter and in FY 2020 (source: ETFGI).

Alternatives doubled net new assets in the fourth quarter to EUR 1.7 billion (Q3 2020: EUR 846 million). This increase was mainly driven by Illiquid Alternatives – based in particular on high inflows into Infrastructure funds – and was supported by Liquid Alternatives. In total, Alternatives generated net inflows of EUR 4.0 billion in 2020 (FY19: EUR 10.2 billion), driven by net new assets of EUR 3.3 billion in Illiquid Alternatives. In particular, DWS Grundbesitz real estate funds family and Infrastructure funds were able to attract high demand. Liquid Alternatives also made a positive contribution to the net inflows for the year as a whole.

Adjusted costs were managed down by 11 percent year-on-year to EUR 1,442 million in FY 2020 (FY19: EUR 1,615 million). Here our management focus on efficiency and cost measures continued to pay off with an 11 percent decrease in general and administrative expenses and a 10 percent decline in compensation and benefits costs. This included additional savings due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjusted costs increased quarter-on-quarter to EUR 393 million in Q4 2020 (Q3 2020: EUR 342 million), primarily due to higher deferred compensation relating to the strong DWS share price development in Q4 2020 as well as early investments into growth and transformation projects, higher marketing spend and higher volume related service charges.

The adjusted Cost-Income Ratio (CIR) improved by 3.1 percentage points to 64.5 percent in 2020 (FY19: 67.6 percent), enabling us to reach our medium-term adjusted CIR target of below 65 percent one year earlier than planned. The adjusted CIR stood at 64.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q3 2020: 61.4 percent).

Growth Initiatives and Strategic Progress

Like the rest of the world, DWS had to adapt to a “new normal” in 2020, reconsidering the ways in which it engages with clients and shareholders, while ensuring the wellbeing of its people. It was also a year in which we stepped up our ESG efforts to ensure we are protecting our planet and people. However, the challenges of 2020 did not change our commitment to our clients as we worked more closely than ever to serve their needs in these unprecedented circumstances. In addition, we made significant organizational changes in the summer to ensure that DWS becomes more client-centric, flexible, efficient and effective as one globally integrated firm in order to enable growth amid ongoing industry mega trends. Furthermore, we were able to extend and deepen important strategic partnerships in 2020.

Sustainability also remains high on our strategic agenda. This also held true during the fourth quarter. We established a high-calibre ESG Advisory Board to advise the DWS Executive Board on the development and execution of its ESG strategy. Moreover, we publicly committed to becoming climate-neutral in our actions as a corporate and a fiduciary – in line with the Paris Agreement – and well ahead of the timeline officially set out in the Agreement. We joined the founding signatory group on “Net Zero Emissions Goal” initiative by the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change. In addition, we achieved an independent ESG rating from CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project). With this rating, DWS is able to better understand its impact on the environment and more importantly, to do something about it. Client activity also significantly bends towards ESG solutions: DWS’ European-listed ESG Xtrackers ETFs exceeded EUR 3 billion in assets and DWS' SDG strategy broke through the EUR 1 billion asset threshold during the fourth quarter.


While we expect the COVID-19 pandemic to continue impacting our day-to-day activities in the first half of 2021, we are fully committed to ensuring that DWS remains successful in the long-term. Following the achievement of our IPO medium-term targets, we are, in 2021, entering the second phase of our corporate journey as a publicly listed firm. For this next phase, we have a clear roadmap. Both for 2021 and beyond.

DWS will further transform key parts of its organization, building on the work that has already been done. This includes doing everything we can to continue to strengthen our asset management focused approach. Therefore, we are developing and investing in a core platform, including IT and a policy framework, tailored to DWS’ fiduciary business and its clients. This transformation also includes integrating new technology into our work, such as artificial intelligence. The use of data and algorithms will improve investment managers in their decision making in the future. And with the help of automation we will also ensure better and more efficient processes. We will also go through a cultural transformation that is performance-driven and a clear meritocracy, helping us to attract the best talents from a wide range of profiles and backgrounds. The introduction of flat hierarchies through our new functional role framework is the biggest milestone in this area and will also ensure that we can reduce hierarchical thinking.

In this second phase of our corporate journey, DWS will grow – both organically and inorganically –, investing into targeted growth areas, building on our strengths and existing expertise. Above all, we will invest in areas where we can be a leader in our industry. For example, we want to be a leading European ETF provider. We will invest into investment strategies on both ends of the spectrum: high-margin asset classes and products in the Active and Alternatives space on one side, and into our scalable Passive business, especially in ETFs, on the other side. In all these areas, we already have strong market positions and proven expertise that we intend to build on further. We are equally committed to invest into expanding our client base. Therefore, we want to further leverage existing partnerships and find new ones – especially in the growth region of Asia. There, and particularly in China, we see great potential to broaden our client base.

And finally, we will not slow down in targeting growth in the area of ESG investing. The subject of sustainability has become an indispensable part of the zeitgeist. And keeping our commitment to making ESG the core of what we do, we will invest into product innovations in this field and position us as the go-to one-stop-shop ESG investment manager.

DWS will transform and grow profitably. We will do so to become a leading European asset management firm with global reach as we shape the second phase of our corporate journey after the IPO.

Going forward we have set ourselves two medium-term financial targets: Until the end of 2024, we want to achieve an adjusted Cost-Income Ratio of 60 percent – with non-linear development especially in the investment phase – and net flows of more than 4 percent on average.

For 2021, we expect the following developments: Revenues will benefit from higher market levels at the beginning of 2021, while we will see further benefits from our cost saving initiatives. In addition, we will see first investments into growth and transformation. At the same time, we will maintain an adjusted Cost-Income Ratio of below 65 percent.

Contact details for further information

Adib Sisani
+49 69 910 61960

Karsten Swoboda
+49 69 910 14941

2020 figures published in this quarterly release are preliminary and unaudited.


Asoka Woehrmann, Chief Executive Officer, and Claire Peel, Chief Financial Officer, will elaborate on the results in an investor and analyst call on 4 February 2021 at 10 am CET. The analyst webcast/call will be held in English and broadcasted on https://group.dws.com/ir/reports-and-events/financial-results/. It will also be available for replay. Further details will be provided under https://group.dws.com/ir/. 

About DWS Group
DWS Group (DWS) is one of the world's leading asset managers with EUR 793bn of assets under management (as of 31 December 2020). Building on more than 60 years of experience, it has a reputation for excellence in Germany, Europe, the Americas and Asia. DWS is recognized by clients globally as a trusted source for integrated investment solutions, stability and innovation across a full spectrum of investment disciplines.

We offer individuals and institutions access to our strong investment capabilities across all major asset classes and solutions aligned to growth trends. Our diverse expertise in Active, Passive and Alternatives asset management – as well as our deep environmental, social and governance focus – complement each other when creating targeted solutions for our clients. Our expertise and on-the-ground-knowledge of our economists, research analysts and investment professionals are brought together in one consistent global CIO View, which guides our investment approach strategically.

DWS wants to innovate and shape the future of investing: with approximately 3,500 employees in offices all over the world, we are local while being one global team. We are investors – entrusted to build the best foundation for our clients’ future.

Important Note
This release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts; they include statements about our beliefs and expectations and the assumptions underlying them. These statements are based on plans, estimates and projections as they are currently available to the management of DWS Group GmbH & Co. KGaA. Forward-looking statements therefore speak only as of the date they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update publicly any of them in light of new information or future events.

By their very nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. A number of important factors could therefore cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement. Such factors include the conditions in the financial markets in Germany, in Europe, in the United States and elsewhere from which we derive a substantial portion of our revenues and in which we hold a substantial portion of our assets, the development of asset prices and market volatility, the implementation of our strategic initiatives, the reliability of our risk management policies, procedures and methods, and other risks.

This document contains alternative performance measures (APMs). For a description of these APMs, please refer to the Annual Report, which is available at https://group.dws.com/ir/reports-and-events/annual-report/.


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