Credit Suisse CEO defends new game plan

Tidjane Thiam and Urs Rohner were at pains to explain the new strategy Keystone

Credit Suisse has been justifying its parallel savings and investments strategy announced this week, with new CEO Tidjane Thiam and Chairman Urs Rohner giving newspapers the message that the bank needs to grow. and agencies

“That is my goal,” Thiam told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ).

The CHF3.5 billion ($3.5 billion) austerity package and investments of CHF1.5 billion announced on Wednesday were “not a contradiction”, Rohner told the paper separately, noting “we have a growth plan and consider investments necessary”.   

“Companies have to be competitive when it comes to costs and paying dividends, but they also have to be able to invest, grow and remunerate their staff,” Thiam said in Le Matin Dimanche.

“There are commentators who are very sceptical [of the restructuring] but I don’t think that’s the opinion of investors.”

Switzerland will be one of the areas feeling the pinch with 1,600 jobs going over the next three years. But at the same time, the company will be investing around CHF400 million in Switzerland, primarily in client services, strengthening compliance and “digitalisation and automation”.  

Thiam told the NZZ: “Credit Suisse hasn’t been so interested in the domestic market in recent years and did not invest enough.”

The CEO sees growth opportunities in small and medium-sized business and high net worth investors.

“Any business that doesn’t develop, doesn’t have a future,” said Thiam, pointing to the example of the United Kingdom car industry where “for decades, company leaders focused on cost saving measures, with the result that suppliers disappeared”.

Faced with plunging core profits, Credit Suisse is embarking on a major overhaul to transform one of the world’s largest investment banks into a leading private bank and wealth manager.

The new strategy foresees raising more than CHF6 billion in capital by selling stock and cutting CHF3.5 billion in costs by the end of 2018. It also plans to expand operations in Asia and emerging markets, particularly for their growing ranks of newly rich entrepreneurs.

Traditionally, Credit Suisse has been strong in its private and institutional wealth management. The global lender will now emphasise that with investment banking in a supporting role. Part of its Swiss banking operations will be publicly listed.

Thiam admitted to Le Matin Dimanche that “2016 will be a bad year because of the costs of restructuring. The first signs of improvement will be visible in the first trends of 2016-2017; 2018 will be a good year”.

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