Major Setback for Top CS Banker Khan

Iqbal Khan, CEO International Wealth Management Credit Suisse

Iqbal Khan, CEO International Wealth Management Credit Suisse

The veteran head of Credit Suisse’s shipping finance arm, resigned on Wednesday, according to research by, a major setback for one of the Swiss bank’s biggest revenue-generators.

John Haefelfinger 160Credit Suisse banker John Haefelfinger (pictured left), a 45-year-old dual Swiss-Italian citizen who has been with the bank since 1996, is stepping down from his current position as head of the bank’s Corporate and Specialty Lending arm, where he oversees between 300 and 400 people. Credit Suisse did not comment on Haefelfingers departure. His unit is part of Credit Suisse’s International Wealth Management arm, or IWM, led by Iqbal Khan.

The lending unit, where Haefelfinger has been a Managing Director since 2007, arranges transport finance such as for ocean-going cargo ships as well as other complex financial transactions.

In shipping, where an asset can take several years after ordering to produce any cash flow, banks typically step into the breach to offer bridge financing.

Lucrative Shipping Activities

Credit Suisse’s activities in this area can be traced back to 1943, when it began offering shipping finance as Schweizerische Schiffshypothekenbank. The activities are noteworthy for Credit Suisse because of the additional potential for private banking business following corporate moves such as acquisitions of initial public offerings.

The units’ fees and margins are lucrative: Corporate and Specialty Lending is estimated by insiders to make for a substantial chunk of IWM’s overall revenue. Unsurprisingly, Credit Suisse has referred to this business as the «nucleus or pearl» of the bank’s activities.

Haefelfinger Unsatisfied With Bank Leadership

Also unsurprisingly, Credit Suisse is dismayed at Haefelfinger’s resignation. The banker was increasingly disillusioned by continuous changes at Credit Suisse and what he felt was insufficient business knowledge in the bank’s leadership, according to sources in Zurich and Singapore.

Haefelfinger’s nearly 20-year career with Credit Suisse is a testament to his personal motto, which is «persistence beats resistance». His departure for what is understood to be a rival firm illustrates that even persistence has its limits.



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