Credit Suisse private bank’s Americas division, which includes Private Banking USA, added $2.9 billion in net new client assets for the fourth quarter.
For the full year, the Americas division added $7.4 billion in net new assets, down from $15.6 billion for the full year in 2008.
Credit Suisse’s [CS] ability to attract assets is in stark contrast to its hometown rival, UBS [UBS]. On Tuesday, UBS Wealth Management Americas reported a net outflow in client assets for the fourth quarter of $11.2 billion.
“This shows that a Swiss bank can increase assets at this time despite all the scrutiny around offshore Swiss banking,” said Alois Pirker, research director at Aite Group. “It’s a big achievement and a relief for Switzerland.”
However, Credit Suisse’s operation in the Americas is vastly different from that of UBS, which acquired U.S. brokerage firm Paine Webber in 2000 and currently has a wirehouse operation with over 7000 brokers and $684 billion in client assets. Credit Suisse, on the other hand, is considered more of a ‘boutique’ operation with 550 advisors and $120.5 billion in assets under management at the end of the fourth quarter. Despite expressing a desire to increase its presence in the region the Americas division actually lost a net 10 advisors over the quarter.
Pirker said Credit Suisse will likely increase their presence in the U.S. now that there are greater restrictions on offshore banking operations. “Credit Suisse has not been as aggressive in growing in the U.S. as UBS, but now they really need to build their onshore presence, either organically or through an acquisition,” he said.
Overall, Credit Suisse’s global private banking operations added net new assets of $6 billion in the fourth quarter, after accounting for client withdrawals of $5.1 billion as a result of a tax amnesty in Italy. In October last year, the Italian government announced that citizens had three months to bring money held in offshore accounts back into the country to be declared and taxed without facing further prosecution.
The private banking division posted pre-tax income of $797 million for the quarter, up from $481 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Credit Suisse group reported pre-tax income of $744 million.