Credit Suisse to overhaul strategy: ‘Risk management will be at the core of our actions’

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Beginning January 2022, Credit Suisse will reorganize into four divisions: Wealth Management, Investment Bank, Swiss Bank, and Asset Management. The divisions will operate across four geographic regions—Switzerland; Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); Asia Pacific (APAC); and Americas—a strategy aimed at strengthening the bank’s core, simplifying its operating model, and investing for growth, according to a media release.

Credit Suisse further plans to exit prime services, the area of its Investment Bank most notably linked to risk and compliance failures that resulted in $5.5 billion in losses related to the downfall of U.S. hedge fund Archegos in late March. An independent report authored by law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in July cited a lackadaisical attitude towards risk and risk discipline and lack of accountability for risk failures among the factors that led to the bank’s exposure in the wake of the collapse.

“Over the past months, the board of directors and the executive board have been working together relentlessly on shaping the strategy that will serve as our compass going forward,” said Credit Suisse Board Chairman António Horta-Osório in a statement. “The measures announced today provide the framework for a much stronger, more client-centric bank with leading businesses and regional franchises. Risk management will be at the core of our actions, helping to foster a culture that reinforces the importance of accountability and responsibility.”

The bank vowed to invest in data, infrastructure, reporting capabilities, and compliance as part of its revamped risk strategy. It has begun carrying out a risk review across all its divisions, with other initiatives either underway or already complete including the establishment of clear roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities and a revision of compensation process and structure that will incorporate risk-sensitive performance.

A series of personnel shakeups have also taken place, including the appointment of Rafael Lopez Lorenzo as chief compliance officer, effective Oct. 1. Goldman Sachs veteran David Wildermuth is expected to join the bank as chief risk officer by February 2022.

In its release, Credit Suisse noted it expects operating expenses to be impacted by CHF 400 million (U.S. $438 million) in connection with its reorganization and “Archegos remediation activities between the fourth quarter 2021 and 2022.” It added an independent investigation into the collapse of Greensill, which supplied assets for Credit Suisse’s $10 billion of supply-chain funds, “continues to be a focus for the bank.”