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Credit Suisse bankers must repay bonuses if they leave

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A sign on the facade of a Credit Suisse Group AG bank branch in Zurich, Switzerland
A sign on the facade of a Credit Suisse Group AG bank branch in Zurich, Switzerland

Thousands of Credit Suisse bankers are fuming after being told they must repay some of their bonuses if they leave within three years.

Staff were told on Friday of plans to shake up bonus payments as the Swiss bank is hit by big losses and the sudden exit of its chairman.

Bankers not on the front line will now be subject to a clawback provision that is typically reserved for dealmakers. It is believed that this will affect about a fifth of Credit Suisse's 50,000 staff.

Those in administrative roles would have to repay a pro rata amount of their bonus if they leave within three years. Employees will receive a higher cash amount upfront, however.

Although it is not the first time that the clawback provision has been included, one insider suggested that the bonus overhaul could be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” given the recent turmoil at the lender. “The place is going down the loo,” they added.

Some back and middle office employees receive bonuses that are on a par with Credit Suisse dealmakers.

An email from the executive board laid bare Credit Suisse’s “difficult year” in 2021 that “creates a challenging context for the bonus pool. However, our aim continues to be to fairly recognise your individual contributions, whilst reflecting the headwinds we faced together over the last year.”

Credit Suisse has been hit by a series of large writedowns as a result of its involvement with the now bust asset-backed lender Greensill, was hit by a court case over a $2bn Mozambique bond scandal, and forced to settle out of court with a star banker over spying claims.

Antonio Horta-Osorio
Antonio Horta-Osorio

Earlier this month, Sir Antonio Horta-Osorio was forced to step down as chairman after little more than a year in the job.

The former Lloyds Banking Group chief executive was found to have breached Covid quarantine rules by attending the Wimbledon tennis finals and the football European Championship in London last summer.

A spokesman for Credit Suisse said: “With regards to executive compensation, Credit Suisse aims to strike an appropriate balance with the interests of shareholders and wider stakeholders.

“We have also said that we will further align remuneration with our new strategic objectives, including our renewed focus on risk management. One example of this alignment is the introduction of a one-time share plan for our senior managers, which will vest in three years’ time, but only if certain metrics tied to our strategic objectives are reached.”

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