Credit Suisse Expects Further Upside in APAC

Helman Sitohang, Credit Suisse CEO APAC

Helman Sitohang, Credit Suisse CEO APAC

Swiss bank Credit Suisse not only eyes China as a growth market in APAC. Under its new CEO Australia is developing very well this year too, according to Helman Sitohang Credit Suisse’s APAC CEO.

«In the first quarter numbers and year-to-date I think Australia has been one of our bright spots in the region,» Helman Sitohang said in an interview with Australia «Financial Review». The banker also expects further upside from recent hires.

Sitohang has recently charged local boss John Knox with making high-profile hires. Former UBS banker Michael Stock is joining next month to head the investment bank, while Jean du Plessis will run the financial institutions group. Industry stalwart Simon Cox has also started in equity capital markets, according to «Financial Review».

«Investment banking fees are down in Australia but we are up – and that is the case in APAC as well,», said Sitohang

Luring Staff From Competitors

«It’s hard to deny that the activity in China is, for example, higher, but for us our private banking numbers (in Australia) and our investment banking and equities numbers are all better than last year», APAC CEO Sitohang added. The Swiss firm has also markedly expanded its private bank, luring staff from companies including ANZ Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp.

In the region, Credit Suisse focuses on sub-geographies including Australia, Greater China, South-east Asia, South Korea, Japan and India.

Helman Sitohang's Motto

Sitohang said in another interview with Indonesian «The Jakarta Post» that his motto — «There is nothing permanent but change» — which he came across during a previous job, has motivated him to always «keep learning and being adaptable to change, improvement, looking for better solutions and looking ahead when strategizing for ourselves (our workplace) and our environment».

Prior to his debut in banking, Sitohang, who studied electrical engineering at the Bandung Institute of Technology, did a stint as an engineer at Schlumberger from 1989 to 1991.

Late-blooming Interest in Finance

The 50-year-old son of a mixed marriage between an Indonesian and a Czechoslovakian says his «unplanned» and late-blooming interest in finance prompted him to read a lot of finance books and magazines and, encouraged by his friends, to try finance for his next job. He got that job at Citibank Jakarta – the first non-engineering position he held.

Three years after working at Citibank, where he acquired basic banking skills, he joined Bankers Trust for three years prior to joining Credit Suisse in 1998, which was then called Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB).

Sharp Cost-cutting in the Rest of the World

«The motto has helped me rise to my current position,» said Sitohang, and he remains optimistic on Credit Suisse's medium-term regional prospects: «If you take the normalized view and say three to five years down the road... I still think it will be a more active market.»

Credit Suisse's global chief Tidjane Thiam has repeatedly singled out the Asia-Pacific region as a key area of growth as other parts of the world endure sharp cost-cutting.


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