Diana Rutzka-Hascher und Thomas Ollinger ©Tim Wegner

Bundesbank reassigns key management posts

New appointments to two key Bundesbank management posts came into effect on 1 May, with Diana Rutzka-Hascher, previously President of the Bundesbank’s Regional Office in Hesse, taking over as head of the Bank’s Directorate General Human Resources at Central Office and Thomas Ollinger moving in the other direction, vacating his post as the Bank’s top HR manager to take charge of the Bank’s Frankfurt-based regional office. “Functionally speaking, it makes sense for them to trade places because it is becoming ever more crucial to attract and retain management personnel for our regional offices,” Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann told around 170 invited guests at a function in Frankfurt am Main. This is particularly crucial for the regional office located at the financial centre of Frankfurt, given the importance of banking supervision here, he added. Mr Weidmann highlighted new European frameworks and forms of regulation as well as the preparations for Brexit and digitalisation as factors which have added to the regional office’s workload and made prudential operations more complex and demanding than ever before. Having the right people for this workload is a real challenge, he remarked.

An ever approachable and dependable team player

Mr Weidmann hailed Ms Rutzka-Hascher’s great dedication in successfully navigating the Regional Office in Hesse through these challenging times over nearly six years in office. Her blend of personal charisma and profound knowledge of Bundesbank topics, he added, have brought her great esteem as an ambassador for the Bank and a broad network of contacts in the financial community. And then there are the many ways in which Ms Rutzka-Hascher has helped keep the Bank in the public eye: “Given her pedigree in business education, reaching out is particularly close to her heart,” Weidmann remarked, stressing that this expertise ought to be beneficial in her future tasks. “After all, the Bank’s Directorate General Human Resources has been working hard these last few years to promote and establish a state-of-the-art open leadership culture.” Major advances have already been achieved on this front, not least thanks to the work of Thomas Ollinger, who led the Bank’s HR team for six years. Mr Ollinger is the model of an approachable and dependable team player, Jens Weidmann said, a manager who sees improved communication as the key to enhancing leadership culture.

Weidmann sceptical about tiered rates

Besides hailing the two managers’ achievements, Mr Weidmann also used his speech to comment on a number of current talking points. He views the introduction of tiered interest rates to help euro area banks – an idea that is currently under debate in expert circles – with some scepticism. The potential relief provided by tiered rates would undoubtedly make itself felt, but the overall impact would be modest. “And that relief would presumably be smaller than the additional burden caused by the shift in normalisation expectations which this debate has sparked,” Mr Weidmann argued. At the beginning of March, the ECB Governing Council used its forward guidance on the future level of policy rates to shift the timing of a first possible rate rise somewhat further into the future. For Weidmann, it is mainly up to the banking industry itself to further increase profitability levels.

The Bundesbank President also warned against being overly pessimistic about the path of the economy, noting that although the dip in growth is proving to be more stubborn than initially thought, major forces of growth are still intact: “The upbeat funding conditions for enterprises, rising wages, good employment prospects and loose fiscal policy are all indications that Germany's economy will rally during the course of the year and bounce back from the lull with fresh momentum,” Mr Weidmann observed.