Credit Suisse is looking beyond China for talent and growth opportunities in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region as the Hang Seng slumps to a six-year low.
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley European Financials Conference 2022 in London, Credit Suisse CEO Gottstein said that a combination of China’s zero-Covid policy, its clampdown on sectors such as technology and its relationship with Russia have prompted the bank to seek growth in other parts of the region. “With China markets softening it’s hard to make any predictions in this market.”
Credit Suisse is in the middle of five-year plan to invest in China, both in investment banking and wealth management. The bank is looking to take full control of its China joint venture and a large chunk of its target to hire 500 relationship managers is accounted for on the mainland.
But Gottstein said that Credit Suisse is less dependent on China than its rivals and in the short term it will be “agile” in looking at opportunities across the region.
Gottstein said that he had seen some teams move from Hong Kong to Singapore. Credit Suisse has operations in both, and its head of wealth management is based in Hong Kong. But he added: “There’s clearly a slowdown on the back of the zero COVID policy that China takes but also the clampdown on technology and the overall situation geopolitically that is unclear.
“Our mid-to-long term strategy is to invest and there are plenty of subregions within Asia where we are continuing to invest, in particular Singapore.”
His comments come as western banks are said to be considering a hiring freeze in Hong Kong in the coming months if market conditions persist.
Western banks are keen to exalt the benefits of China while at the same time talent is shifting out of Hong Kong given the draconian restrictions surrounding Covid 19. A serious outbreak of the virus in Chinese cities is leading to strict lockdowns.
Also, there are concerns surrounding China’s relationship with Russia. The FT reported that China insisted it was “not a party” to the crisis and warned that if it was hit by the west with sanctions it would retaliate.
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