UBS and Credit Suisse: Similar Swiss banks with differing fortunes
RETAIL BANKING IN SWITZERLAND
Both banks are active in asset management and retail banking. UBS relies on a network of nearly 200 branches in Switzerland, compared to 95 for Credit Suisse.
The Swiss domestic branch of Credit Suisse, considered one of its jewels, is particularly active in mortgages and loans to small- and medium-sized businesses.
In a note Thursday, analysts at US financial services giant JPMorgan thought this arm of Credit Suisse would probably have to be spun off or listed separately on the stock exchange in the event of a merger.
Switzerland’s Competition Commission might be reluctant to approve a merger in this field.
PILLARS OF SWISS BANKING
UBS and Credit Suisse are at the apex of banking in a country known worldwide for its banking industry.
UBS, in its modern form, was born in 1998 when the Swiss Bank Corporation merged with the Union Bank of Switzerland.
SBC’s origins date back to 1854 when six wealth management establishments in Basel joined forces, while the Union Bank of Switzerland dates back to 1852 and the creation of a bank in Winterthur, a city at the heart of the industrial revolution in Switzerland.
Credit Suisse was born around the same time in 1856, at the instigation of Alfred Escher who wanted to finance the Swiss railway boom.
Credit Suisse has also contributed to the emergence of insurance stalwarts, such as Swiss Life and Swiss Re, and industrial giants like Brown Boveri, the ancestor of the ABB engineering group.
Today the two banks are global groups, with UBS employing 72,597 people and Credit Suisse 50,480.
CAREERS CROSSING BETWEEN BANKS
With the two banks’ headquarters so close to each other, it is not uncommon for careers to be made with one and then continue at the other.
Credit Suisse chairman Axel Lehmann spent more than 11 years at UBS before being called to the rescue in 2021 to turn Credit Suisse around.
And Credit Suisse chief executive Ulrich Korner left the bank to join UBS before returning, first to save the asset management branch and then the whole bank by taking the CEO hot seat.