Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse is one of the largest banks in Switzerland. Outside Switzerland, it specialises in private wealth management. Credit Suisse is based in Geneva. It has 47.800 employees and assets under management of more than $1 trillion.

Credit Suisse has three divisions, asset management, private banking and investment banking. There are also internal shared services across the divisions such as Information Technology. Many of these services used to be branded as Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) particularly in the English speaking world, although all services have been branded as Credit Suisse since 2006.
Like many similar banks there is an active asset management division. This is run as a globally integrated group with offices in 18 countries. The asset management division manages mutual funds, portfolios and various other types of investment vehicles for a large range of clients. They also run risk management models to estimate the losses that companies can expect to incur by investing in various risky classes of assets. This includes helping banks to calculate what the necessary capital reserves are.

Credit Suisse Private Banking Division, which used to be known as CPSB, is one of the world’s leading private banks, providing discrete and full service financial services for high net worth individuals. It deals with the various issues that private banks tend to deal with such as tax management, succession planning, investment products and lending. Due to its size and the fact that the branding is not separate from its main brand, it is one of the best known private banks in the world which means that it tends to attract far more “new rich” than other private banks and that private banking is relatively larger as a share of income and employment than most large banking groups.

For years the Investment Banking was carried out under the name Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) which was a London based joint venture with the established American bank First Boston. In 1988 Credit Suisse bought First Boston and started retiring the name. It is one of the largest investment banks in the world. It has divisions which focus on the needs of financial institutions and on corporate clients. It has an active Mergers and Acquisitions division which for a number of years had booked the largest amount of fees on M&A activity.

Credit Suisse was founded in 1856 as the Swiss Credit Institution, or Schweizerische Kreditanstalt. Unlike many of the large Swiss financial institutions Credit Suisse’s roots are in the German speaking part of Switzerland and it is based in the German speaking Zurich rather than the French speaking Geneva. This is belied by its French name. It did not open its first retail branch until 1905, in Basel. It opened its first international office in the 1940s in New York. In 1978 it merged its investment banking activities with those of First Boston to form Credit Suisse First Boston, which it bought out entirely ten years later. It has also bought other banks such as Bank Leu, the Swiss Volksbank and the American investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette which was also known as DLJ.

Since 2006 it has concentrated on a “One Bank” approach. Among other things this consisted of using the Credit Suisse name throughout the business, divesting its investment services to AXA and consistently using the same internal services.

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