Financial Institution Management Failures during the Crisis Finance Essay

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The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was brought about by a confluence of factors such as imbalances in savings-rates, prolonged periods of loose monetary policy and regulatory oversight. Financial Institutions involved in rapid innovation to improve profitability in this environment. With abundant money supply and availability of innovative products, banks continually leveraging themselves and expanded their assets both on the balance sheet and off the balance sheet.

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However, an important aspect that cannot be ignored in this analysis of the Financial Crisis is that management failed to protect their institutions resulting in the near-collapse of the entire banking system. In particular, management failed to cope with the rapid changes in the environment, to adequately assess the new risks brought about by financial innovation and to arrest the growing culture of greed that ultimately consumed the institutions.

In this paper, we analyse the various management failures that eventually led to the financial crisis and attempt to come up with remedies for the core issues. We also look at Credit Suisse and give an insight on how the bank learned from the crisis and on how it is adjusting its business model to the current and future market conditions.

Incentive Structures of Front Line Managers

Among the many factors that contributed to the financial crisis was the structure of the compensation and reward system, which financial institutions used to attract staff with the motive of increasing profitability. Investment banks allocate an unusually large portion of their revenues – about 40 to 50 percent [1] – to employee compensation.

Instead of having a reward system in place, which protects the shareholders interests and focuses on long-term objectives (i.e. sustainable growth), short-term targets were being generously compensated; this jeopardized the company’s long-term strategies. In a system where huge profits bring huge rewards, the set up of the incentive system created a culture of excessive greed that led to the near collapse in the U.S. banking system.

Bonus system

A big part of the profit, which determined the size of the bonus pool, came from trading and generous fees charged on both sides of client facing transactions. Financial managers were willing to take more risk for higher revenues in order to increase their profit and benefit from bonus increases. This had significant implications for the institution and its shareholder.

The transactions with expected ongoing fees feed into the annual total compensation, which meant basically that the immediate reward was financed by the income, which was extrapolated over a number of years.

In many cases revenues were not correctly assessed. Profits were not real as many assets turned out to be illiquid. Managers received excessive payouts at the cost of long term unconfirmed income to the financial institution. In other words, managers benefited at the cost of shareholders.

The chart below illustrates the bonus distribution on Wall Street prior to the financial crises. The compensation counted in 2006 USD 34.4 billion, USD 33.0 billion in 2007. This also underpins the short-term revenue generating philosophy.

Source: www.WallStreetComps.com, 4th Annual Investment Banking Compensation Survey 2009

Commission System

Bankers focused excessively on short-term revenue generation and failed to assess product suitability to the clients. High-risk products were being sold to investors with a moderate risk profile such as retail investors and pension funds. This approach was not questioned as long as market rose, however when Global markets collapsed, many investors who thought their money was safely invested, learned that their investments were exposed to high risk and were illiquid. The marketing terminology for certain products was also misleading, for example the term “mini-bonds” suggesting that these are bond-like instruments whereas in reality they carried much higher risk – equivalent, if not higher, to equity.

Failure to balance risk-taking and risk-controlling

The very nature of banking requires that financial institutions take on some of society’s risk. However, the long-term success of these institutions requires them to carefully evaluating and managing the risks with a clear view on the overall risk-appetite of the bank. This is a fundamental conflict that banks are faced with. On the one hand, there is a pull towards higher risk-taking driven by profitability whereas on the other hand the threat of insolvency pulls towards de-risking. Ideally, a bank would organize itself in way that allows these two opposite forces to harmonize and as a result maintain the right balance between risk and reward.

The lack of harmony between these two forces has led to many imbalances, which threatened to bring down the global banking system. The pull towards profitability was allowed to dominate over the opposite pull towards de-risking. This was reflected in the organizational structure of major banks, where risk-takers wielded far more power than risk-controllers.

Independence and power of risk-controllers

The financial crisis revealed the flawed organization structure of the major banks. The risk-controlling functions such as Legal, Compliance, Internal Audit and Risk Management often did not have sufficient power to approve or disapprove key investment decisions. These functions were also often reporting into the business and they only served to make the bank’s offerings more marketable by working around regulatory constraints and “proving” that these instruments were low-risk or to find a “legal” way to participate in more risk-taking activities.

With the expectations of generating both high returns for investors and profits for the firm, complex products with underlying structure which carry an element of risk were being executed from the front line without sufficient time to interpret or analyse data on a broad perspective and to consolidate IT infrastructure manage the risk. Many institutions did not integrate early warning signs to capture risk into their Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for financial controls, accounting, funding, treasury, settlement, counterparty and liquidity risk.

Top Management involvement in Risk Management

Even before the global financial crisis, the importance of Risk Management in financial institutions was widely acknowledged as a key area of organisations overall strategy. However different firms had made varied degrees of progress in strengthening the Risk Management function by the time they were hit by the credit-crisis.

A key indicator of the importance risk management function within an organisation is how actively the top management of the firm is involved with risk management. A global risk management survey by Deloitte published in 2007 found that 70% of executives surveyed said, that ultimate responsibility for risk management lies with very top of organization i.e. board of directors.

Source: Deloitte Survey 2007

The survey found regional differences in how the ultimate responsibility of risk management is viewed across different regions. While in Asia Pacific, 8 out of 10 respondents thought the responsibility should be with the board of directors, only 6 out 10 of in Europe & Americas shared their opinion.

Centralised vs. Decentralised Approach

The approach towards Risk Management differed in institutions. The Deloitte survey found that 44% of institutions preferred centralized approach in regards of managing risk, while 35% believed in decentralized approach. The rest responded that risk should be managed either by business unit, risk type or by region.

Source: Global Risk Management Survey by Deloitte.

A centralized approach offers a consistent basis of risk management and fast implementation of decisions. However it suffers from a slow decision making process due to difficulties with data capture and reporting across different areas of organisation. It may also fail to correctly capture the specific risks to some products, functions or customers.

A decentralized approach can provide a better insight into product-, function- or customer specific risks. It also provides flexibility in the risk management approach.

Some firms try to implement a hybrid model that captures best of both worlds.

Intellectual gap between risk-takers and risk-controllers

Although a number of factors influence an individual’s career choices, there are a certain observable trends in each industry, which show that top talent tends to concentrate in certain professions. In the financial industry, it can be observed that on an average, the trading desks are able to attract top talent more than Internal Audit or Risk Management departments. Certain distinct thinking patterns can also be observed between the two types of professions. It can also be observed that in general, individuals who choose Internal Audit or Risk Management as a profession tend to be conservative and risk-averse while those who choose to be traders tend to have higher risk-appetites.

It can be argued that there is a divide between the risk-takers and risk-controllers both in intellectual capacity and in thinking patterns and that the odds are skewed in favour of the risk-takers. While this divide can be beneficial because the varying thinking patterns would complement each other’s, it also opens up the risk that the risk-controllers not being able to keep up with the thinking-speed and thinking-pattern of the risk-takers.

Senior Management – challenges and failures

The ever-increasing complexity of activities conducted by Financial Institutions and particularly the rapid pace of innovation posed a new challenge to the senior management of financial institutions.

Information Asymmetry

Traditionally, senior management had to deal with the bottom-up flow of information in the institutions. This creates an information asymmetry between the on-the-ground staff and top management. Important information may not reach the top management on a timely basis or there is a lack of quality in this information.

The break-neck pace of financial innovation only exacerbates this asymmetry as the top managers lacked experience in dealing with these complex new instruments. This dilutes the effectiveness of top management scrutiny of bank operations.

In extreme case, internal fraud is made possible because of this phenomenon. For example, Barrings Bank debacle of 1995 was brought about because of the lack of visibility of top management into the activities of a trader called Nick Leeson who happened to wear multiple hats of General Manager, Head Trader and Head of Back Office Operations. Information asymmetry allowed Nick to carry out fictitious trades to hide his mounting losses for a prolonged period.

Lack of “Intuition”

Psychological studies have shown that experts in a field, over the years, develop a certain intuition of understanding the trends in their field [2] . Traditionally, senior management positions are occupied by people who have years of on-the-ground experience in the activities of the institutions. Hence, conventional wisdom expects that these top managers are capable of picking up early signals of things moving in the wrong direction through their intuition. However, given the aggressive pace of financial innovation, the intuition of these managers is either unable to understand the new patterns or even when they do pick up the warning signals, they could be expressly dismissed as being based on “old” wisdom.

Lack of Risk Literacy

The senior management did not understand the risks inherent in the products and was not proficient enough in the specifics of risk management or in the new and complex area of structured products (Synthetic Collateralized Debt Obligations Synthetic or CDOs [3] ) as these were relatively recent innovations.

Pessimism is not well-received during bullish times

Pessimism is usually not well received during bullish times, particularly when the bull-run is as prolonged as it was during the years leading up to the Financial Crisis of 2008/2009. This makes it harder for risk-controllers to convince the management to constraint risk-taking activities during bullish times.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure has a significant impact on the prudence and decision-making capabilities of bank managers particularly during prolonged bull runs as noted above. Analysts, Shareholders and the Media constantly compare banks with one another and in general (and particularly during bullish times), they tend to over-emphasize profitability and under-emphasis the riskiness of the bank. Shareholders are less likely to be forgiving of the management that produces relatively lacklustre results during bullish times, even though it was done with utmost prudence. This constrains the willingness and courage of the management to apply prudence and refrain from risky behaviour during bull-runs, thus encouraging herd-behaviour among the financial institutions.

Failure to make Risk Management functions attractive

As mentioned in section 3.4, Top managements failed to make the risk-controlling jobs more attractive and hence allowed this intellectual divide to build up.

Failure to empower Risk Management function

As mentioned in section 3.1, Top Management failed to provide sufficient empowerment to the risk-controllers to step in and slow down the risk-taking activities.

Failure of Information Systems

The global financial crisis has exposed many limitations of the internal information systems used in financial institutions for risk identification, measurement and reporting. While financial engineering innovations created many complex products like structured credit products, the risk management systems did not keep pace with these changes with similar innovation and engineering. This gap in the development of these two areas of Front Office & Risk Reporting units of the banks meant that the senior management had an incorrect picture of the true risk of the bank’s portfolio.

As per a Global Risk management survey conducted in late 2009 by Deloitte [4] , most executives in financial institutions rated their technology platform for operational risk management as not adequately capable. Only roughly one quarter of executives considered their institution’s operational risk management technology platforms to be very capable in data gathering, risk assessments, reporting, or risk capital calculations. Ratings were even lower for scenario analysis and causal event analysis

Source: Global Risk management survey; 2009 by Deloitte

Risk Management in the letter than in the spirit

When the credit-crisis occurred, many banks were still implementing the regulatory risk management requirements into the systems mandated by Basel accord. However the main focus of many internal risk management systems in banks was to comply with the regulatory guidelines with bare minimum requirements. Many banks did not invest in internal systems that would measure the true risk of the bank and the capital requirement to cover worst-case losses in the true spirit of managing the risk.

In-efficient Models

The banks mostly followed Value at Risk (VaR) based statistical technique for measuring market risk. The methodology relies on historical data and fails to predict the catastrophic scenarios or “tail events”. Despite the obvious limitations of these models, most banks relied heavily on this and other mathematical models for measuring and managing the risk. The rating agencies also used these same flawed models to assess the risk of these complex credit derivatives. The risk engines used simplified factors in the risk calculation, which often underestimated the exposure, as the risks specific to unique product features was not captured.

Information Systems lag behind Financial Innovation

The technology infrastructure for risk management varied significantly across different firms and also across different product lines within firms. As the structured derivatives desk embarked on newer and more exotic products, the technology infrastructure limitations became more critical in tracking and managing this product proliferation. New products were introduced before the technology infrastructure could develop to correctly evaluate those and capture the risk correctly. Risk Managers across many firms had prevalent practice of risk calculation using legacy end user computing tools like excel spreadsheets. In absence of sophisticated and automated information systems, the risk managers had little time to carry out in-depth analysis or discussion with business units.

Fragmented Systems

Most banks did not have fully integrated information systems that could give an aggregate picture of enterprise wide risk for the top management. The risk was measured in different systems many times separated for different desks, products or individual positions. These systems even used different approaches to market and credit risk, which means the risk numbers for different desks, or departments were often not compatible. The risk measurement also failed to capture the correlations in the underlying collateral and impacts of potential rise in rate of defaults.

The structured credit products, due to their unique nature, required a holistic approach to risk management. Most of these products in a trading portfolio were measured for market risk but the underlying credit risk was not considered with the aggregate enterprise risk. The risk management responsibility for these products fell between market and credit risk functions.

Case Study: Credit Suisse Mispricing London CDS

In 2008, Credit Suisse London branch faced a penalty of 5.6 million pounds from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for deliberately mispricing certain CDOs they held. This lead to the $2.65 billion of write-downs. The fine relates to supervision failures by management and the lack of trader monitoring systems and controls.

Although this has been primarily a case of rogue traders deliberately mispricing the instruments, it can also be attributed to the lack of information systems that are sophisticated enough to value these instruments. A comprehensive risk management system equipped with the right models to evaluate these complex CDOs would have detected the inconsistencies in pricing early on.

What are the possible remedies?

The financial crisis revealed significant flaws in the management of financial institutions. Banks have managed their business for many years with most senior executives and traders operating on the expectation that the market would grow indefinitely with their investment yielding high returns and that taking risky positions is the way to get paid handsomely through the year-end bonuses. Compensation schemes were very closely linked to top-line performance without adjustment to risk. This fostered a culture of involving in financial transactions without necessarily understanding the inherent risk.

Banks should foster a strong culture of risk awareness and accountability at every level in particular Front Office being the first line of defence against risk taking. They should also look at centralising its overall risk-management functions and ensure that all front line managers and subsidiary entities are held accountable for amount of risk they are taking on.

Risk culture, infrastructure and flow of information are critical to firms and we identify some of these remedies that need to be established to prevent future crises.

Board level focus on risk management

The Board of Directors should increase their focus on firm-wide risk management

The Board or Board-approved risk management committees need to be competent and understand the inherent risks with innovative products and although they are not responsible for managing risk, they should provide oversight and guidance.

There should be a clearly defined risk management framework to define roles and responsibilities.

Senior Management, Board of Directors and the Chief Risk Officer should define an enterprise-wide KPI’s for risk management and review them periodically.

Empower the risk-controlling functions

Risk Controllers should be empowered to wield sufficient authority to challenge risky decisions made by risk takers or by Front Office managers. Furthermore it is important that the Risk Controllers have adequate influence over the decision making by rejecting the trading of new innovative products that have not undergone rigorous stress testing and which potentially is putting the firm at risk. The role of Risk Controllers should be made more attractive to encourage top talent into these roles.

Maintaining strong independence of risk control functions with oversight as high as possible within the organisation. There must be a true risk management and not just a risk reporting. The Chief Risk Officer and Risk Management Committee’s functions need to be independent from the business units.

Firm-wide integration of risk management functions

Business lines and the Front Office managers who are responsible for executing and managing their risk have to ensure a proper implementation of internal risk guidelines. They should also work closely with risk management as trusted partners in the strategic decisions.

Effective communication and accurate reporting should be provided by the heads of various risk disciplines to the Risk Management Committee for a complete view of the firm’s risk. Operation in silos should be replaced with an integrated collaborate among all departments.

Review and stress-test risk valuation models

Review the current risk valuation models to evaluate whether they are still relevant and also stress test them with new correlation data that has become evident during the financial crisis.

Include all types of risk when defining risk appetite, including those that may come from off balance sheet vehicles.

Mitigate the significant tail risk, which was not transparent within existing risk methodologies, risk management procedures and their methodologies. It should include firm’s size, mix of businesses and exposure to leveraged counterparties, market and other systemic factors. Stress-testing techniques are effective to deal with the changing market conditions and to offset deficiencies and the shortcomings from risk tools such as VaR.

Organization-wide risk culture

Make clear that senior management especially the CEO is ultimately responsible for risk management with the Chief Risk Officer providing leadership in respect of the execution on the organisation’s risk management plans.

Develop and cultivate a robust risk culture embedded in the way that the organisation operates in all areas and activities with accountability for risk management as a priority.

Improving the Internal Information Systems

There is a need for greater investment in risk management infrastructure, which is scalable and is able to extend to accommodate new products, new type of risks and higher volumes.

The firm may need to build a proprietary application or some sort of data warehouse to enhance system integration to have one consolidated robust technology platform

Systems should be in place for stress testing for tail risk and analysing the correlation of risk with various components of a product.

Aligning Employee incentives to shareholder interests

Without doubt, people, rewards and culture played a key role in the development of this crisis where decision-making are made based on a short-term gain rather than a longer-term strategy for the firm. Central to the debate is how firms are going to structure their incentives without encouraging excessive risk. Financial institutions must make it a priority to develop a better way to capture their risk-adjusted-returns and to adopt a fair value approach to compensation aligned to long-term sustainable value.

Ensure a risk-adjusted performance based on qualitative measurement and oversight. The new structure should be consistent with the guidelines for best practice as announced at the G-20 summit for the fair, balanced and performance-oriented compensation policies that are aligned with the long-term employee and shareholders interest. Risk adjusted measurement system should be cascaded top down from board level to the various business units.

Increase the basic salary with deferment on bonus structure. In order to attract and retain talent from senior executives and front line managers, banks need to strike a balance in the accountability of risk rewards process. Deferment on bonus payout over a course of a few years, which are not guaranteed, may not be for everyone. So banks may wish to consider a higher basic salary.

Defer compensation with the compensation value brought closer to the value of the business over a sufficient period of time especially for high earners. There is a need to strike the balance between ensuring individual accountability and also supporting a partnership. Deferment can be in the form of cash and stock. However, there is an inherent challenge if there is business restructuring so such approach should be considered to avoid fragmentation. Banks need to also consider appropriate provisions for ‘claw backs’ for deterioration in performance.

Create a strong accountability culture at all levels within the organization.

What has Credit Suisse done so far?

Credit Suisse has a business model that is less risky and more capital efficient with increased focus on client flows and reduced proprietary trading activities. With its risk-adjusted returns over a long- term period approach, Credit Suisse did remarkably well during the financial crisis.

Prior to the financial crisis, Credit Suisse had already adapted an integrated One Bank strategy with combined strengths of Private Banking, Investment Banking and Asset Management to deliver customized products, comprehensive solutions and advisory services to its global clients. During the crisis, this integrated model proved to be both resilient and flexible, enabling Credit Suisse to respond quickly to market developments. It allowed the bank to stay focused on most attractive markets and client segments providing a solid platform for profitable growth.

Under the leadership of the Brady Dougan, the current CEO, Credit Suisse adopted the vision of becoming the “most admired bank”, which implicitly emphasises reputation over profitability.

Strategy: Capital Efficient Flow Based Business Model

Credit Suisse fine-tuned its business model [5] for 2009 and 2010 by reducing its risk exposure and introducing a reduced-risk and capital-efficient business model. Furthermore it continued to strengthen its capital base.

Increased Capital Base

Credit Suisse had already met the BIS Tier 1 capital requirements before the Basel II accords were announced in 2007. Over the past couple of years it strengthened its capital base ratio further. By Q4, 2009 BIS tier 1 ratio of Credit Suisse was 16.4%. [6

Source: Credit Suisse AG

In October 2008 Credit Suisse raised 10 billion Swiss francs in capital by selling treasury shares and bonds. Existing shareholders Qatar Holding LLC, Tel-Aviv-based Koor Industries Ltd. and Olayan Investments Co. of Athens took part in the capital increase. Taking into account its fund-raising, Credit Suisse’s Tier 1 ratio would have been 13.7 percent at the end of September 2008. With this capital raising Credit Suisse capital ratio exceeds the Swiss Federal Banking Commission’s 2013 capital targets and minimum leverage requirements.

De-leveraging

From the lesson learned by the financial crisis, Credit Suisse reduced its leveraged finance exposure continually. In March 2010, its finance exposure was reduced by 97%, from CHF 11.9 billion to less than CHF1 billion. Furthermore it reduced its commercial mortgages by 31%, from CHF12.8 billion to CHF8.8 billion, and RMBS and CDO trading assets were down 25%, from CHF6.8 billion to CHF5.1 billion. [7

Risk Reduction in Investment Banking

In December 2009 Credit Suisse realigned the Investment Banking structure aiming for overall risk reduction and diversification of the revenue stream.

Within the Equities department, key client businesses were repositioned. Businesses such as high structured derivatives and illiquid principal trading were exited. Instead the concentration was with Equity trading with focus on quantitative and liquidity strategy / convertible.

Fixed Income exited mortgage origination and CDO, Non-US leveraged finance trading, Non-US RMBS (Residential Mortgage-Backed Security), highly structured derivatives, Power and Emission trading and focused instead on Emerging Markets by maintaining leading business but with more limited risk/credit provision. Within US Leveraged Finance, maintain leading business but focus on smaller/quicker to market deals.

Advisory focused on exiting origination of slow-to-market, capital-intensive financing transaction instead of focusing on corporate lending by improving alignment of lending with business and ability to hedge.

Risk Management – CRO organization

The mission of Credit Suisse risk division is to protect the banks capital by establishing a strong control environment for all kind of risks. The division uses four primary function in order manage all relevant issues. These functions are Strategic Risk Management, Credit Risk Management, Risk Analytics and Reporting and Operational Risk Oversight.

Under the leadership of the Chief Risk Officer, the risk division acts as an independent “check and balance” function, hence the Chief Risk Officer reports directly to the bank’s CEO.

The following chart illustrates the risk interaction across the bank.

Source: Credit Suisse AG

Employee compensation aligned to Shareholder interest

Credit Suisse has taken a number of steps to align employee compensation with long-term shareholder interest, starting in 2004-2005, which was a period of fundamental change for Credit Suisse.

Pre-crisis compensation realignment

Credit Suisse had introduced its performance oriented compensation policy in 2005, aligning the interests of employees and shareholders in a long-term perspective. The Performance Incentive Plan (PIP), a share based compensation, closely linked senior management with the delivery of Credit Suisse’s strategy. The plan’s risk/reward structure allowed for significant upside and also total loss depending on the long-term performance of Credit Suisse.

Giving away toxic assets as bonus!

In 2008, Credit Suisse used an innovative bonus scheme that took $5 billion worth of illiquid assets off its balance sheet and used units in this asset pool to pay bonuses to Investment Bankers. [8

First bank to align with G-20 recommendations

Credit Suisse was the first bank to align its reward system with the best compensation practise announced at the G-20 summit. Furthermore, in response to changes in the financial sector, Credit Suisse revised it Performance Incentive Plan (PIP) for 2009 and 2010.

The new compensation policy for Managing Directors and Directors has been divided into two main components: SISU (Scaled Incentive Share Units) and APPA (Adjustable Performance Plan Awards)

Scaled Incentive Share Units (SISU) is an equity-based instrument. Managing Directors and Directors will receive an amount of base shares on a four-year pro rata basis. Delivery of additional shares will be depending on average share price and return on equity over a 4 year period.

Adjustable Performance Plan Awards (APPA) is a cash-based with a notional value that will be adjust upward annually based on Credit Suisse ROE over a period of 3 years and adjusts downwards should the business unit make losses.

Fostering risk-awareness at all levels

Credit Suisse has taken up several initiatives to improve the risk-awareness of employees at all levels within the bank.

Asset Allocation Framework

To provide clients and relationship manager with consistent long-, mid- and short-term investment opinion Credit Suisse harmonized its Asset Allocation Framework in 2009 with the three different time horizons: Benchmark, Strategic and Tactical Asset Allocation.

The departments Global Research, Multi Asset Class Solutions (MACS), Investment Advisory & Strategies and Global Investment Delivery are now involved in the Strategic Asset Allocation (SAA) process. Global Research and MACS share their views on market developments in the Investment Committee. Investment Advisory & Strategies then calculates the SAA based on the data from the Investment Committee. Before the SAA publication, Investment Advisory & Strategies and Global Investment Delivery make sure to have products available to map the recommended strategies.

Legal and Compliance training

To ensure that all employees are familiar with the current legal and compliance regulations, all Credit Suisse employees have to conduct and pass LCD related web based training session on a yearly base.

Frontline Training initiative

To win back client confidence Credit Suisse set up a frontline Training initiative to further improve its advisory capability by providing general and specific trainings to all relationship managers. Starting in spring 2010 all relationship managers (RMs) will be tested and certified. The new certificate-based quality standard being introduced aims to ensure that all relationship managers are able to provide their clients with comprehensive advice about products, investment risk and earnings potential. The certification of relationship manager not only serves the client, it also sets standards for the largely unregulated profession of relationship manager. Hence this certification increases the market value of the relationship manager.

Credit Suisse Suitability Framework (Private Banking)

Credit Suisse set up a product suitability framework within Private Banking and adjusted their client advisory procedure further. All actively sold product types sold by Credit Suisse have been categorized along two dimensions ‘Suitable Investment Strategy’ (Downside Risk) and ‘Suitable Investment Experience level’ (Complexity), so that they can be easily matched against the clients’ investment profiles.

Private Banking Advisory Process

To set new standards in partnering with their clients all over the world, Credit Suisse created the Credit Suisse Advisory Process. Main goal is to understand clients’ needs and demands and to be able to translate them into integrated, tailored solutions from across the whole bank. In providing a sophisticated advisory process, it will help to build a long-term trusted relationship with the client.

Improving Internal Information Systems

Investment Banking IT Strategy

In the evolving regulatory environment and industry trends, the Credit Suisse IB IT management team have analysed the markets to identify emerging themes that would drive the IT strategy. The business aligned strategy of IB IT now incorporates the three themes identified – multi-asset risk management, central clearing and electronic trading.

Multi-asset risk management: The goal is to re-engineer our risk and enterprise data systems to cater to the increased inter-dependencies in risk management amongst the various asset classes.

Central Clearing: As the industry moves away from bilateral trading and derivative commoditization is becoming ever more prevalent, technologically, the goal is to support higher flow, standardize product offerings and provide clients with better tools and services.

Electronic trading: With large volumes and central clearing new market realities, companies will need to improve their electronic trading systems. Credit Suisse is introducing a holistic single-dealer portal to rival competitors’ offerings and increase its share in e-trading.

SDII Program in Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse’s Strategic Derivatives Infrastructure Initiative (SDII) was established in 2002 with an overall objective to reduce Operational Risk and increase the processing capacity of the derivatives infrastructure. SDII is scheduled for completion by the end of 2010.

The initiative aims to set up a standard front to back architecture with a consistent set of processes across all relevant entities. In order to value all Over-the-Counter (OTC) transaction during their entire lifecycle and to predict future cash flow, the bank wants to build a single data source.

Furthermore all risk management will be processed on robust, scalable and controlled Risk Management Systems, hence excel spreadsheets solutions will be replaced.

The key to having the initiative though is the ability to add and integrate new products quickly and efficiently, allowing front to back reporting and monitoring of exposures. This ability will enhance Credit Suisse’s ability to ensure timely reporting of risk exposures into the next financial crisis.

Results achieved so far

The results of Credit Suisse’s consistent efforts to reduce risk and to build a capital efficient business model can be seen in the following graph.

Source: Credit Suisse AG

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