Outgoing Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam said he was proud of what he has achieved at the bank as it delivered strong 2019 results and a promising start to this year.
Thiam handed in his resignation last week after losing the confidence of the board following a spying scandal that had seriously damaged the bank’s reputation. Thursday was Thiam’s last day in office.
The bank is under investigation by the Swiss financial regulator and Zurich prosecutors after it emerged that its had twice hired private detectives to observe departing executives. A probe conducted by the bank found that Thiam had no involvement in the scandal.
“It’s not in my job description to make myself indispensable,” he told a media conference. “It’s to build something that lasts. I am very proud that we have built something of quality. That’s about all you can do in life.”
Boosted by the CHF327 million ($334 million) sale of its InvestLab fund and a CHF498 million revaluation of its stake in the Swiss stock exchange, Credit Suisse reported a CHF4.7 billion pre-tax income for 2019. This compared to CHF3.4 billion at the end of 2018.
Net income attributable to shareholders rose from CHF2 billion in 2018 to CHF3.4 billion last year. The bank has attracted CHF200 billion in net new assets from wealthy clients and institutions since Thiam took over in 2015, including a CHF79 billion boost last year.
“The objective of everything we have done is to get the bank in a place where we are less dependent on the variations in the world economy,” said Thiam.
Thomas Gottstein said he felt “honoured” to be replacing Thiam as group CEO from Friday.
“I am privileged to call Tidjane a friend…even if he’s an Arsenal supporter,” he quipped, referring to the English football club.
“Whilst the last few weeks and months were not easy for all of us, it is now time to look forward and shape the future,” Gottstein added. “We have a strong Swiss corporate culture that is based on Swiss reliability, international finance expertise as well as entrepreneurship, teamwork, diversity, integrity and trust.”
"I am who I am"
Gottstein said the bank’s strategy and business focus would not change under his leadership.
Probed by journalists about the spying scandal that prompted his departure, Thiam said he had remained quiet because he did not want to be seen as trying to unduly influence ongoing investigations into the affair.
When asked about his image in Switzerland, he replied: “There are differences within Switzerland on how people feel about me. That’s life. I am who I am and I cannot change who I am.”
“It is the essence of injustice to hold against somebody what they are. I cannot change the fact that I am right-handed. If you don’t like right-handed people, I am in trouble. Because I can’t become left-handed.”