What Credit Suisse's CEO and CFO did at the weekend


Credit Suisse chairman António Horta-Osorio knows about the dangers of overwork. When he took over Lloyds Banking Group in 2011, the hyper-competitive, hyper-driven  Portuguese banker became so obsessed with turning the struggling bank around that it dominated his days and his nights. "I was constantly thinking about...the share prices that were fluctuating, and so even on holiday I wasn't sleeping," he said six years later. Ultimately, he was admitted to a clinic, given a sedative and made to sleep sixteen hours a day for nine days straight as a cure.

Following that experience, Horta-Osorio said he changed his habits. He began sleeping by 10.30pm, avoiding emails between 7pm and 7am and mostly eating protein instead of carbs. But now that he's embarked on a new shakeup at Credit Suisse, there are signs that some of those good habits could be slipping; at the very least, Horta-Osorio is working weekends. 

We know this, because Swiss newspaper Sonntagsblick met Horta-Osorio and Credit Suisse CEO Thomas Gottstein in London on Sunday, September 19th. The two men - both of whom are based in Zurich, travelled to Canary Wharf for their first ever joint interview in a show of unity after the Financial Times suggested Horta-Osorio thought Gottstein incompetent and wanted to get rid of him. Not at all, said the two men in the resulting article published yesterday: they get on famously.

Horta-Osorio said very definitely that he didn't want to replace Gottstein as CEO, or to become CEO himself and that Gottstein is, "the right man for the strategic realignment of the bank." Gottstein said he and Horta-Osorio are themselves so aligned that they often agree about things: in the last four senior appointments, Gottstein's opinion of the right man for the job coincided with that of the board. The bank is still combing through its business areas and Gottstein is very involved in this process: "all options" are being considered when discussing strategy, the CEO said. Results of the strategy review are likely to be announced in November or December.

After the interview, the two men - both aged 57 - went their separate ways. Gottstein went to New York; Horta-Osorio went home to Zurich. After burning out before, the chairman said he's more disciplined about "sleep, diet, and exercise" nowadays. " - I avoid gluten and dairy products. I try to stick to intermittent fasting to detoxify my body. Sleep is also an important aspect." Nonetheless, he clearly thought it necessary to travel to London for a show of unity on a Sunday; Gottstein said Sunday was the only day the two men could coincide. "You probably know the saying: There is an exception to every rule," said Horta-Osorio, laughing, before presumably flying back for a rest.

Separately, The Times reports that wealthy students in the UK have decided not to even bother applying to Oxford and Cambridge Universities, which they perceive to be giving preferential treatment to children from deprived backgrounds. Instead, they're applying to the U.S. Ivy League, which they perceive to be less partial and more likely to get them top jobs in industries like financial services when they graduate.  

One privately educated girl from Kent recalls how her friend - a head boy with four A*s at A-level and fourteen A* GCSEs, was refused by Cambridge but received offers from Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Columbia.  “I’ve seen many of my alumni go on to get jobs at Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, work at Google, Facebook, all of these companies,” says a 26 year-old who helps Britons apply to the U.S. Ivy League. “If you go to the top U.S. employers — US hedge funds, private equity funds — there’s an earnings premium of 30% at the minimum. It can be double or triple in the U.S. relative to the UK.”

Meanwhile...

Credit Suisse got out of its Evergrande exposure last year and after detecting the risks. Credit Suisse "didn’t like what it was seeing,” said one insider: "Evergrande had the most fragile financials [among Chinese developers] and was clearly facing a liquidity crunch.” (Financial Times) 

Christian Sewing says Deutsche Bank is preparing to hire more ESG expertise. "From a client demand point of view, [ESG] is the number one topic...And not only for 2022, but for the next five years at least." (Financial News) 

Independence Point Advisors, a new independent investment bank run by women and founded by Anne Clarke Wolff, a former chairwoman at Bank of America, aims to address the challenges of raising a family while working 100 hours a week. It will arrange capital market transactions and M&A but will also focus on things like governance, risk management and hiring and retention. (Bloomberg) 

Crystelle Pereira, an insurance analyst at Goldman Sachs in London, is a contestant on Bake Off. "Over lockdown, my family gifted me a KitchenAid stand mixer for my 25th birthday, so I spent a bit more time baking." (Financial News) 

Andy Street, mayor of Birmingham, is excited that Goldman Sachs has opened an office in the city. “I think you probably are the Cristiano Ronaldo moment. You’re the big one to secure.” Goldman is opening a 'global digital business' in Birmingham in 2023. (Guardian) 

24% of male employees hold company stock or stock options, compared with 17% of female employees. The average value of company shares held by male employees in 2018 was $104,902. For women, it was $26,361. (WSJ)

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