The only way to become a managing director at Credit Suisse in Asia

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Credit Suisse in Asia has been preaching the mantra of collaboration between investment banking and private banking since 2015, when Asia advocate Tidjane Thiam took over as CEO and began wooing more entrepreneurs in the region. In Asia, the Swiss firm combines private banking and IB revenues into a unit called ‘Wealth Management and Connected’…IB is the ‘connected’ part and PB makes most of the money. Last quarter in Asia, Credit Suisse generated CHF534m in revenues from private banking, and just CHF139m from advisory, underwriting and financing activities.

If you want to climb the ladder as an investment banker at Credit Suisse in Asia, you’d therefore better start collaborating with your private banking counterparts as soon as you can.

Speaking at the Credit Suisse investor day event earlier today, Edwin Low, co-head of investment banking and capital markets for Asia Pacific, said since 2016 the firm has only promoted investment bankers to MD level in Asia if they have brought in net new assets to the private bank for the previous two years. Merely passing on a client for a chat with your private banking colleagues isn’t enough – there must be a “successful asset referral”, he added.

The thinking behind the promotion policy, Low explained, is to make sure bankers lower down the food chain (at VP and associate director level) view collaboration as a critical element of getting ahead in their careers. This means by the time they reach director they already know how collaboration works at CS, and can then start transfering actual assets into the private bank. Over the past three years more than $20bn has been brought into the private bank in this way – that’s about the same amount of assets as a mid-sized Swiss private bank would typically manage in total, Singapore-based Low added.

Low didn’t go into much detail about what collaboration means in practice, but it could, for example, involve a tech unicorn founder engaging Credit Suisse on an IPO deal and then using CS for their private banking.

Collaboration is all about what the bank calls “strategic clients” – the richest people and biggest companies in Asia – who need trading, investment banking and private banking services on a large scale. Credit Suisse doesn’t want to be “niche” in Asia, said Low, pointing out that CS is the only bank that has gained regional market share over the past three years, and that it holds top-three positions in both PB and IB in Greater China, Southeast Asia, and India.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

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