Credit Suisse looks to expand China onshore presence

Credit Suisse is looking to boost its wealth management business by building up its China onshore presence and expanding elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, Chief Financial Officer David Mathers told Reuters in an interview.

Referring to strong growth in Asia over the past years and the region’s resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mathers said the group was looking to increase its interest in its securities joint venture to 100% “as soon as realistically possible” and expand through licenses to conduct other private banking business in the country.

“We are looking at what other license applications we can make in China to expand our onshore private banking interests,” Mathers said. “Clearly, we’re also very interested in our activities around the Asia Pacific region, not just directly in China, but in other markets as well.”

Credit Suisse faced setbacks in its core business outside Asia last year, reporting a 17% revenue dip in its standalone international wealth division on Wednesday.

Mathers said the group is looking to add client relationship managers to the business as it allocates more resources to lending in the division and makes strategic changes.

“We’re always in the market for quality executives to join the platform, and I think you’ll see us make those recruitments,” Mathers said. ” I think clearly we’ll look at making longer-term strategic change there to actually strengthen that business further.”

“But I think I think the most important point is probably going to be an expansion of lending activity as we actually commit more capital to IWM in the course of 2021.”

Credit Suisse had seen its strongest January in a decade in terms of trading, he said, with strong pick-up particularly in Asia across its investment banking businesses.

“What we’re seeing at this point is a very broad — across markets, across products — strength in terms of capital markets issuance … and a very strong pipeline going forward into 2021,” Mathers said.

Nonetheless, the group was holding back from committing to a 10% return on tangible equity this year, at the lower end of its 10%-12% mid-term target, due to further uncertainties in the environment, he said.