Credit Suisse CEO Is Out Despite Hot Earnings Streak

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By Justin Moore

  • Tidjane Thiam oversaw a massive turnaround concluding with decade-high earnings in 2019
  • 2019 spying scandal, in which Thiam was not implicated, cast a shadow on the Swiss bank

Veteran wealth manager Tidjane Thiam is out as CEO of investment bank Credit Suisse (CS -1.46%). Thiam, an Ivory Coast native, took the helm of the Swiss company in 2015, a financial year in which the firm posted a $3 billion loss. His tenure oversaw a shift in Credit Suisse’s focus from investment banking to wealth management and, amidst a troubling period for many European banks, before a return to profitability in 2018.

Why This Matters: As a Black CEO of a major investment bank, a rarity in the finance world, Thiam was beleaguered by a scandal in which the bank conducted spying operations against two departing senior employees. While the bank’s chairman cited the move away from Thiam as a measure to protect the bank, Thiam’s farewell address hinted at concerns of xenophobia and racism as a factor in his forced departure.

Credit Suisse posted pre-tax earnings of $3.19 billion in 2019, a 40% increase from 2018

Credit Suisse posted pre-tax earnings of $3.19 billion in 2019, a 40% increase from 2018 and the best for the firm in a decade. While the spying scandal cannot be overlooked, an investigation by an outside law firm found “zero evidence” that Thiam was involved. Despite no link to the scandals, a turn-around of the bank’s earnings and a vote of confidence from Credit Suisse shareholders, Thiam was still shown the door.  

Situational Awareness: After successfully leading the turnaround of the insurer Prudential (PRU -2.55%) from 2009 to 2014, Thiam took the helm of Credit Suisse in July 2015 and successfully restructured the bank. He has been succeeded by Thomas Gottstein. Thiam has given no indication as to his immediate future or next role.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Justin Moore

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