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Risk management. Sustainable and responsible.

To achieve long-term success, it is essential that we pursue a responsible approach to business. That is why sustainability issues are an integral part of our risk review process.


We con­sider it vital to op­er­ate re­spons­ibly and demon­strate a high de­gree of risk aware­ness in all our busi­ness activ­it­ies. The ap­pro­pri­ate con­sid­er­a­tion of en­vir­on­mental and so­cial as­pects is there­fore an in­teg­ral part of our in­ternal risk as­sess­ment processes.

How risks are assessed

Prudent risk-taking in line with our strategic priorities is fundamental to our business. Credit Suisse uses a wide range of risk management practices to
address the variety of risks that could arise from our business activities. Reputational risk is among the key risk types considered in that process. Potential reputational risks may arise from various sources, including, but not limited to, the nature or purpose of a proposed transaction or service, the identity or activities of a potential client, the regulatory or political context in which the business will be transacted, and any potentially controversial environmental or social impacts of a transaction. Reputational risk potentially arising from proposed business transactions and client activity is assessed in the Reputational Risk Review Process (RRRP).

The Group’s global policy on reputational risk requires employees to be conservative when assessing potential reputational impact and, where certain indicators give rise to potential reputational risk, the relevant business proposal or service must undergo the RRRP. As part of the RRRP, submissions are subject to review by senior managers who are independent from the business, and may be approved, approved with conditions, or rejected. Conditions are imposed for a number of reasons, including restrictions on the use of proceeds or requirements for enhanced monitoring of a particular issue relating to the client. Any conditions that are imposed as a condition of approval are assigned to a business owner and are systematically tracked to completion, including a four-eye review. Adherence with conditions is monitored to ensure timely completion, with any breaches potentially subject to disciplinary action.

During the course of 2021, the Executive Board Risk Management Committee assumed responsibility for overseeing the reputational risk process and delegates authority to the Global and Divisional Client Risk Committees for transaction level decision-making. A transaction, activity, relationship or submission to the RRRP may be escalated to the Divisional Client Risk Committee (DCRC), or in specific cases, to the Global Client Risk Committee (GCRC), with escalation criteria established to define the necessary governance.

Our risk processes enable us to take account of the potential wider implications of our business activities and products and services, for example on the environment and society. To assess such risks, we pursue a risk-based approach. The current focus is on lending, capital markets and advisory transactions where Credit Suisse plays a significant role, as opposed to flow trading business, which is more dynamic in nature.
For transactions with potential sustainability risks, the internal specialist unit Sustainability Risk evaluates the nature of the transaction and our role in it as well as the identity and activities of the client (existing or new), reviews the regulatory and political context in which the client operates, and assesses the environmental and social aspects of the client’s operations, including their commitment, capacity and track record for management of sustainability risks. The team assesses whether the client’s activities are consistent with the relevant industry standards and whether the potential transaction is compatible with Credit Suisse’s policies and guidelines for sensitive sectors. Based on the outcome of this analysis, Sustainability Risk submits its assessment to the responsible business unit and/or enters it into the Reputational Risk Review system for evaluation.


Sector policies and guidelines

Certain industries are particularly sensitive from a social or environmental perspective. They include oil and gas, mining, power generation, and forestry and agribusiness, which covers pulp and paper as well as palm oil production. To assess potential transactions with clients in these industries, we have defined specific global policies and guidelines, taking account of standards developed by international organizations such as theUnited Nations (UN), the World Bank or the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

These sector policies and guidelines cover topics including:

  • Compliance with industry-specific, internationally recognized standards on the environment and human rights
  • Measures to assess and reduce the environmental impact of operations
  • The protection of the health and safety of company employees and surrounding communities
  • Respect for the human rights of the local population, with particular attention on project-related impacts on indigenous peoples.

Our policies also set out activities and business practices that Credit Suisse will not finance. For example, in 2020 we introduced restrictions related to thermal coal mining and coal-power businesses, mainly affecting companies with more than 25% of revenue from these activities. Restrictions were strengthened at the end of 2021, to encompass new clients with a revenue share of 5% coming from these activities and clients developing new greenfield coal mines or new coal-fired power plants. This restriction was introduced in addition to the bank’s existing policy of not providing any form of financing that is specifically related to the development of new greenfield thermal coal mines. Our policies also include restrictions of financing activities related to High Conservation Value Forests as well as provisions for the particular scrutiny of peatland operations and the prohibition of financial services for operations in protected areas such as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Finally, our policies also state that Credit Suisse will not finance or advise companies against which there is credible evidence of involvement in grave human rights abuses.

Our sector policies and guidelines are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect the latest developments and challenges. A summary of our sector policies and guidelines is available here.

Further documents guiding our approach to environmental and social issues are our Statement on Climate Change our Statement on Human Rights and our Supplier Code of Conduct. In addition,  through our Group-wide Climate Risk Strategy program, we are enhancing our existing efforts such as our TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) implementation efforts, and we continue to define new measures.


Equator Principles

Credit Suisse has also adopted the Equator Principles – a voluntary risk management framework applied by around 100 financial institutions for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk for specific types of finance for industrial and infrastructure projects. The principles set out specific due diligence requirements for certain areas of business, based on environmental and social standards defined by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

More information on our Equator Principles membership is available on our Sustainability networks and initiatives website. Comprehensive disclosure in accordance with the EP requirements can be found here.