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"At Investment Strategy & Research, Our Main Focus Is Good Investments"

The staff of the Investment Strategy & Research unit are important experts at Credit Suisse. They come up with the Credit Suisse "house view," the bank's perspective on key issues affecting the economy and financial markets. What does this unit do? How do investors benefit from its expertise? In this interview, the head of the unit, Nannette Hechler-Fayd’herbe, provides some insight.

The Credit Suisse Investment Strategy & Research unit has a global network. Nearly half of its approximately 150 staff members are based in Zurich, with the rest located mainly in the US, London, and Asia. The team consists of research specialists and financial market strategists. Nannette Hechler-Fayd’herbe manages the worldwide team from Zurich.

Why is a strategy and research unit important to a bank?

Nannette Hechler-Fayd’herbe*: Sound research and a good financial market strategy are strong selling points. The information we publish reveals our bank's worldview. It is not only important as a guide to our investment solutions but also boosts the confidence of our clients.

Credit Suisse combined its Research and Investment Strategy units in 2013 under the purview of the Chief Investment Officer. What impact did that have?

It fundamentally distinguishes us from many research units at other banks. Since then, our method of working has been fully integrated into our investment transactions. You can imagine Research and Strategy as the blood vessels of our investment activity. We feed anything related to the bank's investing business with information. That gives us major influence over performance as well as products. By contrast, our focus in the past was mainly on our reputation. The Research unit issued publications and prepared forecasts.

And today?

Our publications are still an important means of communication. Today, however, our primary focus is clearly on good investments. We are involved in a constant thought process in order to devise suitable investment recommendations for mandates and investment ideas for investors. Furthermore, they are also used as the basis for Credit Suisse's investment products, such as funds and structured products.

What kind of people are on your team in the Credit Suisse Research unit?

Most members of staff at Investment Strategy & Research are academics with differing specialties. They include financial market specialists, economists, and former fund managers, but we also have some physicists and pharmaceutical specialists. Besides that, we work with external specialists: for example, historians, political analysts, and psychologists as part of our behavioral finance theory.

Psychologists? Doesn't research deal primarily with bald figures?

Not only. Financial markets are heavily influenced by sentiment, and there is a veritable psychology to financial markets.

What is your personal motivation for working in the Research and Strategy unit?

I am motivated by the chance to help create investment solutions that can at the same time make a constructive contribution to solving some of today's biggest social challenges; for instance, how to fund aging societies, access to affordable housing, and many more. In the wake of the financial crisis, society has often viewed banks with a hostile attitude. I want to help demonstrate to people that they can trust banks again.

What does an average day at work look like for you?

From 7 to 9 in the morning, I usually work on the content of analyses and publications. I find it important to deliver content personally. This is followed by a lot of coordination and teamwork. Besides that, I often attend client meetings to give advice or am presenting our views at client events. I also spend a lot of time traveling.

In the wake of the financial crisis, society has often viewed banks with a hostile attitude. I want to help demonstrate to people that they can trust banks again.

Head of Global Investment Strategy & Research

How do private investors benefit from the expertise of the Research and Strategy unit?

Our clients benefit from the expertise through the bank's investment solutions that are based on our work. Discretionary mandates are the most direct form of executing the strategy we have recommended. The investment performance then tells us whether we have done a good job. Through our publications, we also inform our clients about financial markets so they can always count on a recommendation from their bank when making investment decisions.

What kind of recommendations does the Investment Strategy & Research unit make?

Our recommendations range from investment allocations to individual equities and bonds. Financial market forecasts are another part of our recommendations.

Who decides which ones are implemented?

The Investment Committee has the decision-making authority concerning what is ultimately implemented. We review the investment strategy every two weeks, and we submit proposals to the Investment Committee for their evaluation. Macroeconomists and financial market analysts give their assessment, which becomes part of an investment proposal. In the end, the Investment Committee takes a vote.