When Singaporean bankers complain, Credit Suisse listens
When Tidjane Thiam was CEO of Credit Suisse, its Asian bankers and traders were some of the most powerful in the bank. Asia was Thiam's passion; the Asian investment bank was even treated as its own division for results purposes.
Thiam has left Credit Suisse. But its employees in Hong Kong and Singapore remain some of its most demanding.
In a measure of their obstreperousness, the bank's Singaporean and Hong Kong risk and compliance teams appear to have achieved the partial reversal of a strategy they'd been complaining about for some time.
Bloomberg reports that "Project Starlight", an initiative to tighten procedures for onboarding wealth management clients in the two countries, has been reversed. Intended to counter lapses in the bank's anti-money laundering framework and risk management capabilities, the project mostly seems to have made it harder to onboard clients during a period when wealth managers in the region were already struggling to meet targets. Speaking to us in November, one Credit Suisse insider said the frustrating project combined "idealism and impracticability."
Following months of complaining, Bloomberg says some of the controls it implemented are now being relaxed. Senior managers no longer have to approve the transfer of client funds to third parties. Clients' information has to match as much possible instead of hitting a specified level. Private bankers can even lift restrictions on accounts blocked by compliance.
Credit Suisse's Singaporean bankers would undoubtedly say it's a victory for common sense. It's also a reminder that the bank can't always push policies through, particularly in the East. - Asian bankers are also said to be among those considering whether to challenge the bank's policy of clawing back cash bonuses from people who quit.
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