“Swiss banks are well po­si­tioned”

Credit Suisse Chair­man Urs Rohner ex­plains what the Swiss fi­nan­cial cen­ter needs to main­tain its lead­ing po­si­tion, how he sees the fu­ture of glob­al­iza­tion and what he finds par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nat­ing about Al­fred Escher.

Bulletin - - Contents - In­ter­view Manuel Ry­bach

Chair­man of the Board of Di­rec­tors Urs Rohner on the fu­ture of Switzer­land as a fi­nan­cial cen­ter.

But glob­al­iza­tion will not nec­es­sar­ily con­tinue to de­velop in the way it has in the past. Both po­lit­i­cally and in the area of trade, re­gional cen­ters are emerg­ing that will have a ma­jor in­flu­ence on de­vel­op­ments in the re­spec­tive re­gions in fu­ture. It will be cru­cial both for Switzer­land and for Credit Suisse to rapidly find their bear­ings and to adopt a smart po­si­tion in this new land­scape.

If Switzer­land can’t achieve that, what would be the worst-case sce­nario?

As a small coun­try with a ma­jor ex­port econ­omy, Switzer­land is reliant on free, rules-based global trade. Our wealth de­pends largely on ac­cess to for­eign mar­kets, mean­ing that if global trade were to be se­verely ham­pered, it would have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on Switzer­land. Sim­i­lar ten­den­cies are also vis­i­ble in the bank­ing sec­tor. Al­though – or in­deed be­cause – dig­i­tal­iza­tion sim­pli­fies the pro­vi­sion of cross-bor­der ser­vices, many ju­ris­dic­tions are plac­ing new bar­ri­ers in the way of those ser­vices. Some mea­sures are de­signed to pro­tect clients and are there­fore jus­ti­fied. In the case of oth­ers, you have to ask whether they are not pri­mar­ily aimed at iso­lat­ing mar­kets – ul­ti­mately harm­ing all par­ties.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the EU and Switzer­land is very tense at present. It ap­pears likely that a frame­work agree­ment will not be con­cluded in the near fu­ture*. What would be the best out­come for the Swiss econ­omy and the Swiss fi­nan­cial cen­ter?

Hav­ing ac­cess to for­eign mar­kets is a core fac­tor de­ter­min­ing Switzer­land’s suc­cess as a busi­ness lo­ca­tion, with ac­cess to the EU’S in­ter­nal mar­ket be­ing of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance. We need sta­ble and cor­dial re­la­tions with our most im­por­tant trad­ing part­ners. The bi­lat­eral agree­ment frame­work that is cur­rently in place with the EU has proved ef­fec­tive. The bi­lat­eral ap­proach should there­fore be pur­sued and, where nec­es­sary, adapted and ex­panded.

We talked be­fore about the change of strat­egy at Credit Suisse: When will the re­struc­tur­ing process be com­pleted?

We are now in the third and fi­nal year of our re­struc­tur­ing pro­gram. At first, the me­dia in par­tic­u­lar doubted that we would achieve our goals, but it is now clear that our strat­egy is work­ing, and we are per­form­ing well across all ar­eas of our busi­ness. We can there­fore be very sat­is­fied with what we’ve achieved so far – al­though that is no rea­son to rest on our lau­rels. We’re only at the be­gin­ning of the fu­ture devel­op­ment of our Group.

How long will there con­tinue to be two big banks in Switzer­land?

As far as Credit Suisse is con­cerned, I am con­vinced that we are well po­si­tioned with our strong Swiss roots to con­tinue op­er­at­ing suc­cess­fully in our home mar­ket and also glob­ally.

Credit Suisse does a lot of busi­ness with tra­di­tional fam­ily-owned com­pa­nies and also with young firms and a new gen­er­a­tion of en­trepreneurs. What is your ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with mil­len­nial en­trepreneurs? Do they have a dif­fer­ent men­tal­ity to the older gen­er­a­tion? Are they more will­ing to take risks, for ex­am­ple?

I don’t think you can de­scribe mil­len­ni­als as gen­er­ally hav­ing a big­ger risk ap­petite. How­ever, they are well qual­i­fied, have a tech-savvy life­style and have grown up with the in­ter­net and mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This makes it eas­ier for them to be glob­ally con­nected and to de­velop

At Credit Suisse, we don’t run any of our busi­nesses to­day in the same way as we did in the past.

Al­fred Escher was a vi­sion­ary who had en­trepreneur­ship in his blood.

other busi­ness mod­els. If you think about the most suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies of re­cent years – Ama­zon, Google, Face­book and Alibaba – you see that they are based on clas­sic en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit com­bined with a busi­ness model that would have been in­con­ceiv­able with­out dig­i­tal­iza­tion.

What are Switzer­land’s strengths when it comes to found­ing com­pa­nies that be­long to the new econ­omy?

Dy­namic, growth-ori­ented en­trepreneur­ship re­quires spe­cific know-how, a well-qual­i­fied work­force and po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity. Switzer­land has a suc­cess­ful sys­tem of pro­fes­sional train­ing, where uni­ver­si­ties, com­pa­nies and the state co­op­er­ate ef­fec­tively. This pub­lic/pri­vate part­ner­ship has al­ready given rise to many suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies. It’s up to us to en­sure that this con­tin­ues.

It is 162 years since Credit Suisse was founded. In which ar­eas of busi­ness does the bank’s age place it at a spe­cific ad­van­tage?

With its long tra­di­tion in wealth man­age­ment, Credit Suisse en­joys a high level of trust in Asia in par­tic­u­lar – but also in other re­gions. We are es­pe­cially proud of our her­itage as the Bank for En­trepreneurs, which is in­spired by our founder Al­fred Escher, a true vi­sion­ary who made things hap­pen. This still shapes our busi­ness to­day.

What fas­ci­nates you most about Escher?

He was a vi­sion­ary who had en­trepreneur­ship in his blood. He spurred on the devel­op­ment of the Swiss rail net­work and, with the con­struc­tion of the Got­thard rail­way, took on projects in the face of re­sis­tance that many peo­ple thought im­pos­si­ble. Credit Suisse was heav­ily in­volved both fi­nan­cially and lo­gis­ti­cally in con­nect­ing the north-south axis. The bank has been in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to Escher’s land­mark con­struc­tion ever since. The Got­thard rail­way made a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to Switzer­land’s pros­per­ity at the time, as did Credit Suisse – which has con­tin­u­ously shown that it as­sumes its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­yond bank­ing and still does so to­day. A prop­erly func­tion­ing in­fra­struc­ture re­mains a core fac­tor and an im­por­tant eco­nomic driver – es­pe­cially for trade.

Photo: Credit Suisse

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Switzerland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.