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Did Poor Governance Bring Down Credit Suisse?

Did Poor Governance Bring Down Credit Suisse?

by Starling Insights

Starling Insights Editorial Board

Feb 08, 2024

Observations

ICYMI: In a Wall Street Journal article from November 2023, journalist Margot Patrick traces the decline of Credit Suisse, analyzing the impact of Urs Rohner's leadership during his tenure as Chairman of the bank from 2011 to 2021.

Following Credit Suisse's liquidity crisis and eventual emergency rescue in Spring 2023, much of the blame was placed on external circumstances. "But insiders and investors combing over the wreckage say that Credit Suisse's board, headed by Rohner, was ultimately responsible," Patrick writes. “It was the bearer of a flawed culture that led the bank into a series of calamities.”

Rohner has defended his tenure, however, pointing to the tens of billions in profits Credit Suisse delivered over the decade he was Chair. And the scandals that hit the bank during this time, he argues, were legacy issues that dated before his tenure. Instead, he insists, the bank's downfall was caused by decisions made after he departed in 2021.

Former executives at Credit Suisse say that Rohner and his board did not set the right "tone at the top" regarding risk management and culture. "During his tenure, Credit Suisse's stock lost three-quarters of its value," Patrick recounts. “A series of scandals... culminated in Rohner's final days with one of the biggest sudden losses in banking, a more-than $5 billion hit from the collapse of family office Archegos Capital Management.”

For more, read “The Costs of Misconduct.” This Deeper Dive report features a detailed discussion of Credit Suisse and the costs, both financial and non-financial, of the series of crises the bank faced in its final years

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