Approach & Reporting Message from the CEO and the Chairman
Urs Rohner, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Tidjane Thiam, Chief Executive Officer, on Corporate Responsibility.
Maintaining the trust of stakeholders is more important than ever during periods of profound change. At Credit Suisse, we were mindful of this throughout the three-year restructuring that we launched at the end of 2015 to increase the Group’s resilience. As part of that restructuring, we defined three main objectives: First, we wanted to achieve sustainable, compliant and profitable growth – shifting our focus to wealth management and right-sizing our Global Markets activities. Second, we needed to reduce both risks and costs, as well as to strengthen our capital base. Our third goal was to significantly upgrade our risk and compliance capabilities and improve our culture. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our employees and the support of our clients and shareholders, we achieved these objectives by the end of 2018. Credit Suisse is today a very different bank to when we began this journey in 2015.
In line with our strategy to be a leading wealth manager with strong investment banking capabilities, we strive to be a professional and reliable partner to our clients – offering expert service and advice to individuals, corporations and institutions around the globe. We believe that successful client relationships are not defined by performance alone: Integrity and ethical conduct are essential to inspire long-term confidence in our bank. This is why our 45,680 employees as well as the members of the Board of Directors are obligated to uphold our Code of Conduct. Our six Conduct and Ethics Standards are also key to promoting a shared understanding and expectations in respect of our culture and conduct. Since the end of 2015, Compliance has been set up as a stand-alone Executive Board-level function that oversees compliance matters across the Group, further underscoring the high level of importance that we assign to this topic.
Being responsive to the rapidly evolving needs of our clients is essential to securing their trust and maintaining a long-term relationship. For example, we recognise that investment products in the sustainable and impact investment space have grown in importance in recent years – especially for millennials and the next generation of investors. In 2017, we established our Impact Advisory and Finance (IAF) department, which aims to facilitate projects and initiatives that have a positive economic and social impact while delivering a financial return for clients. The IAF department generated significant momentum across both wealth management and corporate and investment banking in 2018, its first full year of operation.
Credit Suisse is playing an active part in codifying the relatively new but rapidly growing sustainable finance sector – including participating in an advisory capacity in the launch of the International Finance Corporation’s Principles for Impact Management at the International Monetary Fund meeting in October 2018 and becoming a founding member of the U.S. Alliance for Sustainable Finance in December 2018.
We recognise the importance of upholding international standards and best practices that promote responsible business conduct, such as the UN Global Compact with its Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards, environmental protection and anti-corruption efforts. We also strive to make a meaningful contribution to the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which form a core element of the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. We believe, for example, that there is a pressing need to protect the climate and environment for future generations. In addition to our efforts in the sustainable and impact investment space, we apply internal policies and guidelines for certain sensitive industries when assessing potential transactions and client relationships and we are working with other banks to develop methodologies for the alignment of credit portfolios with the Paris Climate Agreement. At an operational level, we strive to make more efficient use of natural resources within our organisation and to reduce the direct impacts of our activities on the environment and the climate through our global environmental management system. We have also been operating on a greenhouse gas neutral basis globally since 2010.
At Credit Suisse, we believe that our responsibilities go beyond banking, and we want to make a meaningful contribution to addressing social challenges across the different regions in which we operate. Working with selected partner organisations, we support initiatives that seek to generate a positive economic or social impact. 2018 marked the tenth anniversary of our global initiatives in the areas of financial inclusion and financial education. In addition to providing funding to our partners, we encourage our employees to leverage their skills and expertise for the benefit of their communities. Employees can, among other things, devote up to four days per year to supporting social projects run by our partners. A total of 18,694 Credit Suisse employees around the world dedicated more than 187,900 hours to volunteering in 2018. We also designate Charities of the Year for four different regions and conduct a wide range of employee and corporate fundraising campaigns to support them.
Our business works on the basis of trust. One important way for Credit Suisse to build trust is by communicating transparently with all our stakeholders and listening to their views and expectations. This dialogue encompasses a broad spectrum of topics – depending on whether we are engaging with clients, employees or shareholders, regulators or policymakers, the media or non-governmental organisations – as evidenced by the scope of this publication. This Corporate Responsibility Report is designed to be part of a continuous, constructive conversation between Credit Suisse and these different stakeholders. In this spirit of dialogue, we welcome your comments on any of the subjects discussed in this publication.
Urs Rohner Tidjane Thiam