"LONELY at the top" is not a predicament that Mr Gunit Chadha, based in Singapore, has had to grapple with over the past 20 months as head of Deutsche Bank's Asia-Pacific operations.

The immensely personable and articulate Indian national shares the throne of overseeing the German lender's operations across 16 countries in the region with Mr Alan Cloete, who is based in Hong Kong.

Sceptics may not favour dual CEO-ships but it appears to be working well, according to the 50-year-old seasoned banker.

"We are equal partners and it's worked very well from day one. Our partnership is both complementary and absolutely in sync," says the bank's co-chief executive of Asia-Pacific in a Straits Times interview.

"The first call I have every morning is with Alan. The last call Alan has every evening is with me."

That shared leadership structure mirrors the set-up at the very top of the Frankfurt-based bank where Mr Anshu Jain and Mr Juergen Fitschen hold the executive leadership positions jointly.

Still, the load on Mr Gunit's shoulders, shared or otherwise, is far from light. Together, he and Mr Cloete lead the bank's operations in the region, which involve transaction banking, wealth management, investment banking and markets bursting with competition and challenged by an ever-changing landscape.

They include Japan, Australia and New Zealand where the bank has forged a strong presence, and huge emerging markets such as India, China and Asean, where there is room to grow.

To step up the game in Asia - a promising sweet spot for Western banks looking to grow - where the bank employs 18,000 people, it has appointed 11 country chief officers.

Nearly half of the bank's staff strength is in India, where Mr Gunit led the bank's operations for some nine years prior to taking on his current role.

Mr Gunit and Mr Cloete also sit on the bank's group executive committee which makes big strategic decisions.

"Having two executives based in Asia-Pacific on the global 18-member group executive committee, including our predecessors, sends a strong signal. We've got a lot of Asiaphiles in senior management, including the global co-CEOs, who understand the risks and opportunities here," Mr Gunit says.

That, without a doubt, is a reflection of the banking group's vociferous push to deepen its engagement in this region.

The efforts have become somewhat of a silver lining for Germany's largest lender, which in January reported a €1.2 billion (S$2.1 billion) pre-tax fourth-quarter loss.

But the Asia-Pacific story held up handsomely. Income before income taxes was up twofold in 2013 from a year ago. The operations from the region contributed €3.9 billion or 12 per cent to the banking group's total revenue and 25 per cent of pre-tax income.

Much of that, says Mr Gunit, is owing to the bank's move to become more client-centric while ridding itself of duplication to cut costs. A resilient macro backdrop in the region further cemented the upbeat performance.

That has made the bank's four-year target for income before interest and tax from this region to grow by a compounded annual growth rate of 20 per cent up until 2015 appear modest. Still, there's much left to do.

"While our financial results demonstrate that we are in the right macros with right business models across Asia- Pacific, there are opportunity gaps," Mr Gunit acknowledges.

One of them includes deepening the bank's commercial banking operations in the region.

"It is interesting while the DNA of Deutsche Bank has been more of a global investment bank with a leading markets business, now we are really getting into the heart of Asia which is commercial banking."

The other is to widen what he calls the "MNC spine", which it has done very well for its German clients, serving and following them as they expand abroad but only "modestly" for other global and Asian firms overseas.

"We are now trying to build a global MNC client 'spine'. This is critical as we bank global clients across the 70-plus countries," he adds.

Growing the wealth management business - it currently has some €68 billion under management and is ranked top five in this segment - is another thing in the bank's cross hairs.

These are no doubt crowded segments where countless banks have already flocked in to tap the burgeoning rising affluence and business opportunities here. Could it be a little late then for the bank to join the party?

Without a second's pause, Mr Gunit retorts: "When we're sitting in the top tier across all our lines of businesses in Asia-Pacific, we have room to take more market share.

"In some lines of business, such as wealth management and transaction banking, the No. 1 or 2 bank may be significantly ahead of us. This leaves a lot of headroom for us."

That is a valid point indeed for the bank which is ranked among the top five in terms of transaction banking, wealth management and markets in the region.

"We are not re-inventing or changing our business model significantly in Asia-Pacific. It's not broken, it has scale and is getting the investment needed to grow significantly.

"For us, it's about our clients."