Home » How Switzerland’s once-feted banking industry became a national embarrassment

How Switzerland’s once-feted banking industry became a national embarrassment

FINMA said it was “closely monitoring the situation”, adding: “FINMA is evaluating the direct and indirect exposure of the banks and insurance companies it supervises to the institutions concerned. 

“The aim is to identify any cluster risks and potential for contagion at an early stage.”

Yet Körner has tried to remain upbeat amid the turmoil. On Tuesday, he said he was buoyed by the bank’s faster-than-expected progress on a wave of job cuts and added that there were signs customer confidence was returning.

“We got inflows yesterday, which is a positive sign I would say. We even saw material good inflows yesterday.” 

While Körner is hoping this will be the start of a trend reversal, a single day of inflows will not be enough to quell investor pressure.

In its annual report, the bank revealed that customer outflows had stabilised to much lower levels but had not yet reversed.

Market worries have been plaguing Credit Suisse for some time over the bank’s ability to deliver a restructuring plan amid the wave of clients pulling funds from the lender – a figure that ballooned to around $120bn in the final quarter of last year.

Last month, Andrew Coombs, an analyst at Citigroup downgraded his rating of the bank, saying: “While management provided some reassurance on flows and on capital and liquidity… they also raised serious questions on the future trajectory of profits with the CEO pointing to another ‘substantial’ loss in 2023.”

In October, Körner unveiled a three-year turnaround plan which included axing 9,000 jobs, shifting its focus from investment banking towards managing the wealth of its rich clients and taking a 1.5bn Swiss Franc (£1.3bn) investment from Saudi Arabia’s biggest bank. 

As part of the overhaul, Credit Suisse’s investment bank will also be spun off.

The bank endured twin hits in 2021 following the collapse of supply chain finance group Greensill Capital and family office Archegos, triggering a prolonged period of crisis for the bank. 

Those two scandals led to $10bn (£8bn) of its clients’ assets being frozen and a $5.5bn trading loss.

Last week, to add further insult to injury, Credit Suisse was forced to delay the publication of its annual report after an eleventh-hour query by US regulators on its previous filings.

The reason for the delay was revealed on Tuesday when the bank said it had identified “material weaknesses” in its reporting and controls procedures for the last two years in the latest blow to the scandal-hit lender.

It said: “Management did not design and maintain an effective risk assessment process to identify and analyse the risk of material misstatements in its financial statements.”

Körner said he was addressing the issue “very forcefully”, adding that there was no impact on the company’s financial results for 2022 or previous years.

Körner undoubtedly has an unenviable job on his hands. He says all he needs is time: “We are absolutely doing the right thing, it takes some time to get through. We want to get back all that we lost. And once we are there, we go beyond and grow the business again.”

Investors are starting to become restless and will want to see action rather than words.