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Credit Suisse

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As he surveyed the Credit Suisse Group in 2004, CEO Oswald J. Grübel saw a far-flung financial services firm that offered a variety of excellent products and services, but did not have much coordination between its divisions. The Credit Suisse Group was comprised of two flagship banks that operated as loosely-coupled entities. The company’s investment banking division, Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), was based in the United States, whereas the Credit Suisse private bank was headquartered in Zurich. The physical separation symbolized a deeper divide that had inhibited cooperation. Grübel believed that the business units were not capitalizing on obvious cross-division business opportunities and therefore were ceding business to its rivals. Credit Suisse bankers also were not in a position to offer a comprehensive portfolio of best-in-class services to their clients, and the company’s share price was declining.

To address this problem, Grübel initiated a cross-division collaborative called “One Bank” in 2005. Under Grübel and his successor Brady W. Dougan - who took over as CEO in May 2007 - One Bank entailed an ambitious effort to integrate the Credit Suisse Group’s three core businesses – CSFB’s investment banking, and Credit Suisse’s private banking and asset management. Grübel outlined a multi-level approach to the One Bank initiative. On a legal level, the two banks would have to be merged into one company called Credit Suisse. Internally, new operating procedures to facilitate the One Bank culture would have to be devised. And a system to track One Bank’s progress and results would have to be created.

Grübel appointed a One Bank Delivery team, led by Ian Marsh in the company’s London office, to carry out these One Bank mandates. In addition to implementing organizational changes, Marsh and his team would have to build bridges between the two banks, whose physical separation and drastically different cultures had allowed stereotypes and misconceptions to fester among employees on both sides of the ocean.

Within a year of the One Bank launch, the effort appeared to have borne fruit as referrals led to increased business. In December 2007, the company reported that revenues from One Bank referrals were on track to reach CHF 680 million – an increase of CHF 440 million from the previous year. But One Bank was still a work in progress. Other financial institutions had made a few steps toward integration, only to lapse back into disconnected divisions. Within Credit Suisse some people wondered about the limits of integration. How could bankers retain their abilities as top flight specialists amid the pressure to become generalists?

Published Date: 06/11/2008

Suggested Citation: Allison Mitkowski and Jaan Elias, "Credit Suisse," Yale SOM Case 08-045, November 6, 2008

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