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No profit targets at Credit Suisse as bank aims to reduce risk

Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam has told investors that the bank is not setting profit targets for bankers, to ensure they "do not have incentives to engage in overly risky activities", Bloomberg said20 Nov 2015

At an investors meeting in Berne, organised to approve a company stock sale, Thiam told investors that the move is "an important part of our new strategy", Bloomberg said.

The job of bankers in future will be to support Credit Suisse's expansion in private banking and wealth management, and this will involve a move away from "short term trading activities", Thiam said, according to a Financial Times report on the same meeting.

Investors at the meeting agreed two proposed capital increases totalling approximately 6 billion Swiss francs (£4 billion) to boost the bank's balance sheet and help fund restructuring plans.

Credit Suisse announced a "new strategic direction, structure and organisation" under Thiam in October. The plan involved a focus on Swiss business, an expansion of the bank’s wealth management and Asian businesses and moves to "sight-size" its investment bank.

Financial regulation expert Michael Ruck of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "The pressure from regulators to ensure the right culture is in place may lead others to move away from traditional profit targets and incentives. Deferral of bonuses and potential clawback are leading many to consider whether higher basic salaries are an appropriate system for remuneration, with smaller incentives or bonuses being available with the latter being based upon different metrics."

"While alternative methods of motivating bankers and other staff may be generated via cultural shifts, career advancement and internal recognition, the interesting question will be whether shareholders support this approach if there is either a dip in profitability or a repeat of previous inappropriate behaviours. Staff retention will also remain a question mark if others continue to offer large incentives based upon profit targets," he said.

"No doubt those at the FCA and PRA will be extremely supportive of a move away from profit targets, but would have one eye on what they are to be replaced with," Ruck said.