Our Company History


It all began with Swiss railroads in 1856, when the country needed to finance the expansion of its network and (the forerunner of) Credit Suisse, (Schweizerische Kreditanstalt), was founded. The bank has since turned into an integrated bank operating in over 50 countries around the world.

On July 5, 1856, the prominent politician, business leader, and pioneer Alfred Escher founded "Schweizerische Kreditanstalt". The original purpose of the new bank was to finance the expansion of the railroad network (e.g. the Nordostbahn/North-East Railway) as well as further industrialization in Switzerland. The founding of the company was a huge success: Initial stock was issued for public subscription with a value of three million francs, but within just three days the total value of subscriptions amounted to 221 million francs.

This success story continued over the next century and a half, with Credit Suisse gradually evolving into a leading global provider of financial services. On the one hand, this was achieved through strong organic growth, but it was also supplemented by a series of significant mergers and acquisitions. This involved the amalgamation of very different cultures, philosophies, and spheres of specialist knowledge to create a strong integrated bank.

Clients as Innovation Drivers

If there is a constant in the history of Credit Suisse, it is a track record of continual innovation. In true pioneering style, Credit Suisse has shaped many of the countless innovations to hit the financial markets over the past one and a half centuries, and has quickly adapted others for its own use. For example, Credit Suisse (or Schweizerische Kreditanstalt / SKA as it was then known) was the first large Swiss bank to establish a direct telex connection with New York in 1951. It was to continue its pioneer role in the Swiss market by opening the first drive-in bank (1962), and launching both the first telephone banking service (1993), and the first internet banking platform (1997).

But the company's history has been shaped by much more than just technological innovations. In the areas of product management, training and development, marketing, and social commitment, Credit Suisse can look back on a long tradition of leading the way for others to follow. As different as the innovations were, they ultimately served a similar aim. In nearly all cases, this was to meet the needs of clients in an even more rapid, professional, and comprehensive way. And it is already clear today that this driving force will also fuel many a future innovation at Credit Suisse.