Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam gave a candid interview to Bloomberg Markets, but on one important point, he was less transparent.
Thiam was asked whether he has the support of his investment bankers, and he completely dodged the question.
He spoke instead about the markets, or trading, division of the firm, and then moved on to discuss the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
Here’s what he said:
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I wrote a memo to congratulate everyone for Brexit, because it took a lot of coordination to manage that well. We had worked for weeks. Two weeks before, I got uncomfortable. I could see the bookies were saying there was a 22 per cent chance of Brexit, which was too high. It was a bit like a Russian roulette probability. We had to set a maximum loss, and then we took that number down. We went into the referendum in a safe place, and our execution was excellent because it was across units, across markets, across divisions. It was a robust, real-life stress test, and I’m thrilled how well the organisation performed. Everybody pulled together.”
Now, this was not a trivial question. Whether or not Thiam feels he has the support of his investment bankers is hugely important to the firm — namely because they have been leaving in droves recently.
Credit Suisse lost at least six managing directors in the first five months of the year, including five key tech bankers who went to Jefferies.
Three people familiar with the matter told Business Insider that the departures were related to overall sentiment within the investment bank and a sense of being undervalued by Thiam himself.
Since taking charge in June 2015, Thiam has pivoted the focus of the firm toward the wealth management division and away from the investment bank. In January he said that the pay model for investment bankers was broken and that their compensation should not always remain stable or increase, but rather it should fluctuate with the market.
Those moves have rubbed bankers the wrong way, according to the people.
All the more significant, then, that Thiam was not equipped with a ready response when asked about his relationship with that critical part of the firm.