"Bill Winters should have been CEO of Credit Suisse"
As Credit Suisse's share price hits a (new) record low, it's worth revisiting what went wrong at the bank where I spent a large chunk of my career. When I worked there, it was still one of the greats.
Plenty of people have prognosticated on the cause of Credit Suisse's ills, but as someone who witnessed its problems first hand, I'd suggest they can be summarized in one word: patronage.
The problem at Credit Suisse was that the wrong people were promoted into the wrong jobs. When I was at CS, people were obsessed with managing up. People without the right backgrounds or qualifications were promoted and there was a lack of strategic focus. They would congratulate themselves on how well they were doing, when all that was really happening was that they were dressing the turkey. Not that anyone was willing to say that.
This culture was perpetuated by the CEOs. Brady Dougan had Brady's people and Tidjane Thiam had Tidjane's people. And then the Swiss board had its own Swiss clique. When you have those tribes, the wrong messages are passed up the hierarchy.
Credit Suisse would be a different bank today if it had hired Bill Winters when Brady Dougan stepped down in 2015. Winters was the obvious candidate: he'd distinguished himself at JPMorgan where he helped the bank navigate the financial crisis and he knew investment banking and markets businesses. Instead, Credit Suisse chose Thiam who dismantled the markets business, had his own struggles with the Swiss gnomes, and had little strategy but to go long Asia. Thiam was the wrong person at the wrong time, and it was a problem that was perpetuated throughout the bank.
Anil Shiravadakar is a pseudonym
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