The pandemic and following market crisis during 2020 has seen many high net-worth individuals across central and eastern Europe return to the safety and security of large international banks. Among those benefiting from this flight to safety has been Credit Suisse, which has seen increases in net new assets over the first few months of the year.
It is confirmation of its commitment to the region and of the integration of wealth management with corporate financing that many CEE wealth clients require. Credit Suisse wins the award for CEE’s best bank for wealth management.
“In Western Europe a lot of wealth is inherited, but in CEE the majority of wealth is held by business owners and is tied up in the operating assets,” says Robert Cielen, head of emerging Europe at Credit Suisse.
That plays to the bank’s strengths in structuring. Cielen highlights, for example, a case where a client urgently needed liquidity after an IPO did not materialize. The bank tailor-made a large escrow deal to suit the client’s needs.
“We’ve become much more fluid operating out of one coverage team,” says Cielen.
During the coronavirus crisis the bank has been advising clients on how to protect their assets, starting in January by de-risking portfolios.
Traditionally the region is not transaction-heavy and tends to lean on the US investment banks for deals, but the crisis highlighted the value of having wealth management as a long-term core business.
Russia is Credit Suisse’s main focus in emerging Europe, where it has been onshore for more than 25 years. Indeed, the bank says it has a double-digit market share of estimated Russian offshore wealth, with a main client segment of Russian entrepreneurs, and is forecast to clock 6% annual wealth pool growth over the next three years. Each year the bank hosts a CEE forum to share insights with entrepreneurs across the region.
As part of its commitment to Russia, Credit Suisse is also the sponsor of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and a strategic partner of the international contemporary art fair, Cosmoscow, and a founding partner of the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, which is one of the leading private business schools in Russia.