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May 27, 2011updated 05 Jun 2017 11:36am

Kreis reorganises for Greater China push

Greater China will form a central part of Credit Suisses Asia-Pacific private banking strategy in the coming years, according to Marcel Kreis, head of Asia-Pacific private banking at Credit Suisse. Kreis sees Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan as an integrated, Greater China economic region and has re-organised his teams management structure to better position Credit Suisse for growth.

By Will Cain

Photograph of Marcel Kreis, Credit SuisseGreater China will form a central part of Credit Suisse’s Asia-Pacific private banking strategy in the coming years, according to Marcel Kreis, head of Asia-Pacific private banking at Credit Suisse.

Kreis sees Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan as an integrated, Greater China economic region and has re-organised his team’s management structure to better position Credit Suisse for growth.

“We want to more aggressively pursue the acquisition and servicing of clients in Greater China,” he says. “I think we are a little under-represented there.”

Credit Suisse is represented in China through two representative offices, one in Beijing and the other in Guangzhou – though these are not private banking branches.

The business also has an asset management joint venture with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) China’s largest bank, and an equity holding in an investment banking joint venture with Founder Securities.

 

Acquisitions on the horizon?

The bank is considering a number of avenues for its private banking strategy in China including setting up a subsidiary or making an acquisition. Both have their limitations, according to Kreis.

Setting up separate subsidiaries would require the bank to adhere to stringent capital requirements demanded by the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank.

There are also governance issues – finding capable managers and establishing a governance structure that Swiss regulators would be happy with presents a “real challenge”, Kreis says.

“Despite the fact that [China is] the most rapidly growing wealth market in the world, is it ready for the type of private banking we offer internationally and domestically in places like Australia and Japan? The level of maturity and sophistication begs more questions right now than comfortable answers,” he adds.

 

Re-jigged organisational structure

Kreis has reorganised the private bank’s operating regions, partly as a result of this focus on Greater China, moving away from the North Asia/South-East Asia split employed by most wealth managers.

In June last year, he scrapped regional management altogether, instead redeploying his North Asia and South-East Asia heads into other roles and asking seven offshore country heads to report into him directly.

This was done to raise their profiles, allow them to take management responsibilities, make hiring decisions and take a layer of management away.

He has since reintroduced a regional head for South-East Asia and another for a new management region which consists of Japan, Philippines, Thailand and non-resident Indians. He is still on the lookout for a new head of the Greater China business.

“From a trade flows point of view of trade flows and economic spheres it makes sense to us to have three regional heads sub-regions rather than two based on the booking centres,” he says.

“[Flattening the management structure] was something we felt was necessary at the time. I think it was a good experience for us and for the seven offshore market leaders,” Kreis concludes.

 

See also:

Interview with Marcel Kreis: Regulation ends ‘cushy’ era

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