Credit Suisse PB scoping for synergies, overlaps

The bank is working to find cost efficiencies as it finalises an integration plan for its merged private banking and AM business. Product selection and IT are two potential areas of focus.
Credit Suisse PB scoping for synergies, overlaps

Credit Suisse is scoping for synergies and overlaps in regional market coverage and product selection and delivery as it finalises an integration plan for its merged asset management and private banking units.

It is understood that final proposals are due to be presented to the management board within two months, with implementation set to start this summer.

“The overall merger is looking to streamline both coverage and product capabilities and how we deliver the two,” Asia-Pacific head of private banking, Francesco de Ferrari, tells AsianInvestor.

Two areas that sources indicate are likely to feature are product selection – both asset management and private banking sides have selection teams – and IT, where leveraging synergies is seen as one way to scale up capabilities amid a limited regional talent pool.

Credit Suisse has set itself a cost-reduction target of SFr950 million by 2015 for its combined private banking and asset management division and ongoing initiatives. The bank says it achieved SFr300 million of this saving in 2012.

“Now that we all belong in one division we need to take a look at the whole value chain,” adds De Ferrari. “With things either side of the fence there is a tendency to rebuild capabilities.”

There have already been a number of personnel changes following its decision to fold its asset management and private banking businesses together, as reported.

Earlier this month Credit Suisse named Neil Harvey vice-chairman for asset management for Asia-Pacific. The move allowed him to continue to manage key institutional and ultra-wealthy client relationships around the region. He maintains two other roles that he has recently adopted: group co-CEO for Greater China and CEO Hong Kong.

Now De Ferrari points to a partial private banking reshuffle, while confirming it is looking to hire more relationship managers to fill out its Greater China and Southeast Asia coverage.

The key structural move is that from April 1 Tee Fong Seng will focus solely on his role as vice-chairman of private banking for Asia-Pacific. Previously he had also headed its Southeast Asia operation.

The vice-chairman function is specifically a client-facing, P&L-driving role on behalf of its Singapore and Hong Kong businesses (Credit Suisse’s other two onshore markets, Australia and Japan, are largely seen as separate).

Working alongside Tee is Jullie Kan, who became vice-chairman of Southeast Asia from February 1, in a move announced internally. She was previously market head of its Malaysia business.

Replacing Kan as market leader for Malaysia is Jimmy Lee, the former CEO of integrated subsidiary Clariden Leu, who had been leading that integration.

Meanwhile, Claudio de Sanctis is set to start as its new Southeast Asia head from April 1, as announced earlier this year. He was hired from UBS Wealth Management Europe.

Further, SJ Hwang – who was rehired last August – is moving from head of the ultra-high-net-worth segment to take on the whole ultra-high solutions area. From April 1 he will replace Yves-Alain Sommerhalder, who is moving to Switzerland to head securities trading and sales there.

In terms of its market coverage, De Ferrari says Credit Suisse is looking to beef up in Greater China and Southeast Asia by hiring more relationship managers.

Last year the bank appointed Song Kun from Merrill Lynch (Asia-Pacific) as managing director and senior client partner for Greater China, based in Hong Kong. She had reported to Anna Wong, the firm’s market area head for Greater China, who joined in news broken by AsianInvestor. 

It came after An Hui Ling and a team of RMs covering Greater China out of Singapore quit. However, Song now reports to Tee, who oversees senior client partners in HK and Singapore.

Last year Credit Suisse added a net 40 RMs to take its total to 440 based in its four onshore Asian markets – HK, Singapore, Japan and Australia – and including its team covering Asian clients booked out of Switzerland.

De Ferrari notes that its private bank generated two-and-a-half times more collaboration revenue for its investment bank last year than in 2011, providing investment banking solutions to its ultra-high-net-worth segment. This includes advisory, DCM and ECM.

In terms of its high-net-worth, or “core”, clients (SFr2 million to SFr50 million in AUM with the bank), Credit Suisse has just launched a high-conviction advisory concept – its team aims to offer highest conviction ideas in line with client investment profiles.

“It will be interesting to see how this will play out this year,” says De Ferrari, as the bank strives to find a way to migrate the business from brokerage to one more centred around advice.

Credit Suisse private banking had a total of SFr107 billion in assets as at the end of last year, which represents 22% year-on-year growth. It is understood the Clariden Leu integration and  acquisition of HSBC’s private bank in Japan contributed less than SFr5 billion.

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