Credit Suisse eyes China’s booming wealth management industry as Swiss bank goes back to its roots
- The 166-year-old bank sees the sector as a key focus of a ‘radical’ restructuring that aims to return it to its core foundation, chairman says
- In view of the ‘huge growth of the middle class’ in mainland China, Credit Suisse is ready to grab a ‘fantastic opportunity’
The 166-year-old bank sees the sector as a key focus of its recently announced “radical” restructuring that aims to return it to “its core and solid foundation”, according to chairman Axel Lehmann.
In view of the “huge growth of the middle class” in the world’s second-largest economy, Lehmann said Credit Sussie is poised to grab this “fantastic opportunity”.
Many started to question Hong Kong’s credentials as a global financial hub as two years of strict travel curbs during the pandemic undermined the economy and left the city’s business community isolated.
Lehmann believes a recovery is on the horizon.
“[Hong Kong] has the capability to attract a highly diverse workforce,” he said. “Then there is the gateway from China to the world and from the world into China. This is a unique position that Hong Kong has.
“Yes, Hong Kong needs to partially recover from the two years of lockdown, but I’m confident that that will happen.”
Credit Suisse announced on October 27 a radical restructuring that it said would leave it “a stronger, more resilient and more efficient bank”. Efforts will including raising fresh capital raise and staff layoffs.
“Actually what we announced [on October 27] really goes back to the core, to the foundation of the company, which is wealth management,” said Lehmann. “Obviously, you know, we have specific capabilities – capital market and investment banking.
“We announced three major initiatives [in the restructuring]: a) risk-focusing of the investment bank; b): a very comprehensive operation-transformation cost programme; and c), strengthening of the balance sheet, as we are raising 4 billion [Swiss francs] of equity,” he said.
Lehmann said the plan was well received by investors. The bank’s share price plunged on October 27, when the restructuring was announced, but bounced back.
“The market is seeing that this is bold and the right restructuring,” he said. “The market sees that we’re really going back to the core strengths of our overall business.
“The share price reaction after the announcement was largely a technical reaction. As you raise 4 billion of capital, that has a dilution effect.”
Credit Suisse has two joint ventures in China, and is acquiring a securities joint venture called Credit Suisse Securities China (CSS), according to Edwin Low, the bank’s Asia-Pacific chief executive.
“Our longer term goal is to also have a locally incorporated bank, which can provide a full suite of wealth management services to onshore clients in China,” said Low.
“We focus on the ultra high-net-worth in certain markets, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Southern China. We do not need to be everywhere.”
Lehmann expects China will double its gross domestic product over the next 10 years or so.
The bank will not take “just a short-term perspective, [but] really a very long-term perspective,” he said.