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Why no one will want to leave Credit Suisse.

Credit Suisse: slow on job cuts, low on severance, big on retention

Good luck to all who get let go by Credit Suisse. As we have noted previously on these pages, the Swiss bank isn't exactly generous when it comes to rewarding staff who are let go. Today's delayed release of the bank's 2022 annual report confirms this. 

Credit Suisse spent just CHF19m ($21m) in cash severance awards in 2022, down from CHF31m in 2021. Just CHF3m went to material risk takers and controllers (senior staff), down from CHF10m the previous year. 

The severance awards went to 252 'standard' employees and five material risk takers, making the average parting payment CHF75k and CHF600k respectively. Given that Credit Suisse intended to cut 2,700 people before Christmas, it's not clear what happened to severance payments for the remaining 2,243 and whether they are yet to come.

Today's results in fact show that Credit Suisse cut only 1,200 people in the fourth quarter of 2022, implying that cutting staff is harder than the bank anticipated when it announced its restructuring plan in October. 

Big on retention 💪

While Credit Suisse appears to be scrimping on staff who are let go, it's being far more generous to the people it wants to stay. Today's compensation report reveals that the bank spent CHF497m on 'Strategic Delivery Plan awards'  granted to 'most Managing Directors and Directors' last year. It also spent a further CHF367m in retention awards paid to 'key talent and senior management in the form of deferred cash (subject to clawback) and deferred share-based awards.' 

The SDP awards were granted in February 2022 and are shares vesting over three years. The retention awards went to 1,143 employees (implying an average payment of CHF321k per head, which was admittedly less than the CHF570k per head paid to retain a more select group of 652 employees in 2021). The bank also wants to make a further CHF30m 'Transformation Award' to 500 top employees globally, worth an average of CHF60k per head. 

If this isn't sufficient, people in the investment bank have an added incentive to stick around. Credit Suisse said today that 'existing senior leaders and future senior hires' at CS First Boston will together receive up to 20% of shares in the new company following its intended IPO. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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