They want to help CS boss Thomas Gottstein to grow into his position, say number 2 top people in a big story in today’s Financial Times (FT).
This is the toughest verdict so far about the operational boss of the battered multinational. The Swiss stands there as a banker who had been promoted too high.
Not his fault, so the interviewees of the FT. His superiors on the board of directors might have misjudged its strengths and weaknesses.
The verdict is explosive. It prepares the CS and Switzerland for the next replacement at the top.
How should Gottstein still perform his role as the most important figure in a delicate phase when the new strong man doubts his suitability as CEO?
Antonio Horta-Osorio is meant. The Portuguese, who had dominated the English Lloyds Bank for the past few years, determines everything at CS. Nobody can get past Horta.
He was a sir, according to the FT today. The fact that the newspaper highlights the English accolade from early summer shows what kind of picture the reader should get. Here the consecrated President, there the overwhelmed CEO.
Horta-Osorio wanted to give the poor Gottstein some more time, say the FT sources. The statement is hard to beat in terms of hypocrisy. Mercy and helpfulness at the top of top banking? Give me a break.
It’s about tough power. Horta-Osorio claims that Gottstein must perform. “Antonio is giving orders to Thomas at these meetings. They are his decisions. “
So the influential newspaper. The statements say it all.
The new President reproaches his predecessors on the Board of Directors and those elected by them as top management for the worst imaginable, namely: a lack of know-how.
„One of the problems of Credit Suisse in recent years is that people at board level had no real banking competence“, gibt die FT die Analyse eines Vertrauten des frischen Chairmans wider.
„Antonio addressed it right away and now he is looking at the management level — they don’t have strong experience in the banking sector.“
Despite all the tragedy, the fact that Gottstein remains in office despite the humiliation can also be appreciated positively. If the man who had only taken over from predecessor Tidjane Thiam a year and a half ago in the midst of the spy turmoil, gave up begging, there would be even more turbulence.
So make a good face to the sad game – apparently Gottstein’s motto. The question is: where is Horta-Osorio heading the major Swiss bank?
With all the show of force that the new president is showing, this point is less clear. According to an insider, Horta-Osorio wants to first apply the lever in the International Wealth Management (IWM) division.
The area that includes global private banking could be reduced to Asia. The rest would end up elsewhere, especially the wealthy clientele domiciled in Switzerland would come to SUB, the Swiss Universal Bank as a domestic unit of CS and the former Swiss credit institution.
It would be a dismantling of the supposed star unit, which had made good profits for a while under Iqbal Khan, who jumped to UBS, but then slid into the crisis. CS has already taken asset management out of the IWM, which now acts as an independent area.
Should the IWM become an “Asia” division, then that would look like a far-reaching decision by Horta-Osorio. But it’s effectively a sideline.
The main question is and will remain investment banking. This is where CS has the greatest risks, as the catastrophic crash this spring with the US hedge fund Archegos clearly demonstrated.
Conversely, in its good years, CS has made proud profits, mainly thanks to trading. Over time, the investment bankers benefited most from it – with gigantic bonuses. It paid off for them that the Swiss multi wanted to play in the big Wall Street concert.
It didn’t work out for the shareholders, at least the little ones. In contrast to the big ones from the Arab region, they did not have any high-yield risk paper from their bank in their portfolio.
The constant ups and downs in the overseas division were also no joy for the Swiss CS bankers. Their profit contribution was usually stable and high, without their bonuses and wages skyrocketing.