Greater 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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Interview with Marcel Kreis: Regulation
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