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Edited Transcript of CSGN.VX earnings conference call or presentation 13-Feb-20 9:15am GMT

Q4 2019 Credit Suisse Group AG Earnings Press Conference

Zurich Feb 23, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Credit Suisse Group AG earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 9:15:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Dominique Gerster

Credit Suisse Group AG - Head of Corporate Communications Switzerland

* Thomas P. Gottstein

Credit Suisse Group AG - Member of the Executive Board & CEO

* Tidjane Thiam;Chief Executive Officer

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Conference Call Participants

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* Sam Jones;Financial Times

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good morning. This is the conference operator. Welcome, and thank you for joining the Credit Suisse Group's Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2019 Results Conference for media. (Operator Instructions) And the conference is recorded. (Operator Instructions)

I will now turn the conference over to Dominique Gerster, Head of Corporate Communications, Switzerland. Please go ahead, Dominique.

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Dominique Gerster, Credit Suisse Group AG - Head of Corporate Communications Switzerland [2]

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Thank you, operator, and thank you, everybody, for joining us. Here with me today are Tidjane Thiam, CEO; David Mathers, our CFO; and Thomas Gottstein, our incoming CEO. Tidjane will give you an overview of our full year and fourth quarter performance. And after his presentation, you will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Please go ahead, Tidjane.

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Tidjane Thiam;Chief Executive Officer, [3]

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Thank you. Thank you, Dominique. Good morning, everybody. I'm going to give you a run-through of the results and what we presented this morning. After which, Thomas, who's here (inaudible) say a few words, and we'll go to the Q&A. I think we're under a bit of a time constraint, so we'll try to run through this efficiently.

So let's start with the results. Here, you have our reported PTI in 2019, which is at CHF 4.284 billion positive. And we separated on the right, a lot of nonoperating items, which we had announced. You have a gain on InvestLab, a gain on the SIX revaluation, which totaled CHF 825 million on the right on the positive side, and you have a major litigation -- set of major litigation provisions that were taken, which are legacy issues through 2015 for CHF 389 million, taking the total down to CHF 4.7 billion. But what we have focused on in our communication is a part here in the center because we don't really claim credit for those different one-offs. And that shows a strong improvement in profit, 18% from -- sorry, I'm still on this one. 18% from '18 to '19.

Now if you go to the bottom line, bottom line, which is the next slide, net income. I've been in the role of CEO for 4 full years, so it's '16, '17, '18 and '19, since I started mid-'15. So you can see the results we produced here from the losses of the first year or the second year to a profit in the third year and a profit in the fourth year, at CHF 3.4 billion, 9% return on tangible equity. So I should move on.

This is to show you what happened in 2019. We have first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter. The first quarter was actually quite difficult. This is revenue year-on-year where the government closed down in the U.S. If you remember, Q4 '18 was very difficult. There is a market correction, and then Q1 '19 was also quite difficult, then things have improved during the year. Q2 was basically flat year-on-year. Q3, we had a little gain. In Q4, we had a very strong Q4, one of our best ever, with revenue up 19%, excluding all unique elements. And that explains the shape of the cost, which is on the next page, some surprises today about the cost in the fourth quarter. But we have always said that we have a prudent approach to cost management.

When you go into a year, you don't know how the year is going to shape. So there is pressure on the revenue. You take the cost down, which is what we did with the team during Q1 and Q2, because there was a lot of uncertainty. People were talking about a recession, possibly in 2019. And as things improved, we became more positive which led to an increase in cost in the fourth quarter. But you see here 11% versus 19% increase in revenue. So you still have, what we call, positive growth. So revenue is increasing faster than cost.

This is a slide we showed you every quarter, showing basically the change in revenue over change in cost. And what we call positive operating leverage, i.e., revenue moving more favorably than cost. And we have done now 13 quarters of positive operating leverage.

Looking at capital on the next slide. CET1, it's now at 12.7%, with an increase in Q4 from Q3. And we have commented in the past on how the regulatory inflation has made this ratio more and more demanding. So although the ratio had gone from 12.6% to 12.4%, you see on the next page, but actually, the actual amount of capital has continuously increased, and the CHF 36.8 billion we have today, we believe, is the highest in Switzerland. So we have a very strong capital base, having started from a relatively challenged position.

So the next slide, please. We have also returned capital to our shareholders. We started our buyback program in 2019, that was new. And we paid about CHF 1.7 billion of capital to shareholders, whilst keeping this 12.7% CET1 ratio. CHF 1 billion of share buyback and CHF 695 million of dividends.

So what I'd like to do in the next section is go back to the strategy we are following and elaborate on some of the, I think, unique aspects of our approach. So we have said from the start, we want to be a leading wealth manager with strong investment banking capabilities. People often oppose the 2, and we have always said that in the ultra-high net worth, in the entrepreneurs market, those 2 sets of capabilities are complementary and allow -- can allow us to really achieve a high level of performance. And if you look at the performance of the market, we said wealth management, global wealth growth, that's what you have on the top there, at the left, and we said that sales and trading as an industry was challenged and was going to either stagnate or decline and that we would play on both, but we would take into account the fact that one of the markets is growing and the other one is not.

So if you look at the results, we have first started by reorganizing the bank. We had 2 global divisions, which was Private Banking & Wealth Management, on one side Investment Banking, and we broke the bank in what we thought were more manageable units. We created the Swiss Universal Bank, which was new to have a Swiss bank, devoted to the Swiss market, focused on the Swiss market with one CEO. We created International Wealth Management, Asia Pacific as a division. And we split Investment Banking & Capital Markets and Global Markets in 2 divisions.

Then we focused on -- even during the restructuring on really 5 teams. It was to grow, to strengthen our capital position. So starting at 10.2% CET1 to generate operating leverage, (inaudible) a little bit, to reduce our level of risk and to deal with the legacy, which at the time was significant because we have the RMBS issue with the DOJ with any estimates from CHF 4 billion to CHF 7 billion or CHF 8 billion that we needed to tackle. So just running for some of these things, growth.

This is the growth in net new assets, which is very important to us in Wealth Management. How much net new assets are we taking on board. You can see year after year of our progression, CHF 27 billion, CHF 38 billion, CHF 54 billion, CHF 79 billion. One thing on this slide, if you look at '18 to '19, NNA have increased by CHF 25 billion and that's about as much as we used to do in a year, in 2016, CHF 27 billion.

So we have been able to scale up, change the scale and attract overall about CHF 200 billion of net new assets. So there's been a growth strategy and that growth strategy has been successful. If you look at the assets under management, we have reached a record level of assets under management at above [USD 1.5 trillion]. And that has grown over 4 years by 6% per annum.

So very good growth achieved by the teams and the strategy. And interestingly also, that growth has been profitable because what's difficult often is to combine volume growth and profit growth. So we've been very disciplined in the management of our costs, so that growth in volume has flowed to the front line. What we are showing you here is the Swiss Universal Bank plus International Wealth Management plus the Private Banking in Asia. So it's really wealth management profits. And you can see, it's grown at 15% per annum over a period from CHF 2.7 billion to CHF 4.7 billion.

So a little bit about our approach to Wealth Management and some important elements here. The regionalized model is something we believe in. We think it's important to be close to the clients that the success factors in Switzerland for Thomas are very different from the success factors in China for Helman Sitohang and we -- that model allows us to be closer to our clients and more nimble. We have also said that we very much focus on ultra-high net worth and entrepreneurs. We think it's a very loyal clientele, very profitable clientele, and that allows us to do very unique things and things that are very difficult to replicate. There are many elements on this page. I'm not going to cover all of them, but providing institutional quality solutions and capabilities is very important. You've heard us talk about ITS. ITS is a platform where global markets, which usually handles sophisticated institutions is able to manufacture products for our largest clients, and we think that has worked very well.

I'm just going to illustrate some of these points. If you look at the regional model, we've always felt that it gives us a footprint that is sufficient. Clearly, we are not in wealth management in the U.S., but in the Rest of the World, we are very active. And we've given you a sense here of the size of the businesses and the AUM, CHF 200 billion plus in SUB, CHF 200 billion plus in APAC and IWM CHF 370 billion. So it's a broad footprint, and this allows us to play on the global stage.

This is a very important area of focus for the team, for me, being the capital allocation. When we started in '15, market activities consumed about 51% of the capital we were investing, and it's down now to 28%. So we have really shifted very significantly that capital allocation. And the other thing that's interesting is that, if you measure the volatility of these earnings streams, the gray is about 25% and the blue is about 5%. So we've been consistently shifting capital from the more volatile business to the less volatile business, and that has really helped our performance and the bottom line very much.

This is also an important slide for us. If you look at the typical ultra-high net worth client on the right, they use our Private Banking. This is revenue from a typical ultra-high net worth client. So we'll get about half our revenues from Private Banking, the pure Wealth Management. But because the entrepreneurs -- we also do advisory underwriting, financing for them. So that's another 25%, 30%, and we also do execution of transaction and that's another 15% to 20%. So we've always said that with these types of clients, we can basically make twice the revenue, but somebody doing only Wealth Management would do, and that's a big part of how we've driven the [bank]. And that's why IBCM and Global Markets are very important to us because we cannot do that if we don't have both IBCM capabilities and if we don't have those Global Market capabilities.

So just to continue on ITS. ITS is a joint venture between global markets and the Swiss Universal Bank and International Wealth Management. We created in 2017, and it's been really doing -- growing double digits, 27% since it was created. And we just put here some of the examples of the transactions that we do there. And it's interesting because it fits our culture. We are very good at structured products and those clients like structured products. If you look at investment banks, there's 2 types: there's a kind of [flow] houses, the [flow monsters] are very good at trading. And you've got structured product houses. They are very good at innovative solutions, and we are in that category, which is why this strategy for us makes sense and works well.

Then I just illustrate this with Asia. Because although this is a Wealth Management-focused strategy, it's been beneficial to our investment banking activities. If you look at our market share in investment banking in Asia, it's grown every year. We started as #3, and we celebrated this year because, for the first time, #1 in investment banking in Asia. We've increased our share of wallet. Q4 was the second highest quarterly revenue since '17. And the other thing we are doing, which is quite different, is that we use our investment bankers to feed the private bank. They contribute very significantly to the NNA. It varies from 1 quarter to another. But the NNA in Asia, 40% to 50% come from the Investment Bank, and that's quite unique.

So still staying on Asia. This is the top 75 clients in Asia, for a given year, and they are managed in a special unit. This shows you the transactions we've done -- example of transactions we've done with them in a given year. And you can see that, it's across geographies, it's across industries, infrastructure, electronics, investment conglomerate, diversified holding company, et cetera, real estate. And what we're trying to do is always to maintain our position, where we already have a high penetration on the left of our clients and also grow, what we said here growth opportunity from existing under-penetrated clients. And if you look at the next slide, this is what happened. We've been able to really increase very significantly the revenues we get from these clients. But to be explicit, each of these clients. When you say revenue from a client, it is multimillion dollars of fees per annum. Each of these clients pays us millions of dollars in fees. So you can imagine how much we manage from because they're happy to pay those fees in exchange for the services we provide.

So that's APAC. First of all, on IWM because that's been very successful in APAC. And to be honest, we have not had the same success between IBCM and IWM. In APAC, we had integrated IBCM in the division. So it became natural for them to work together. And now we're moving to a new phase, where -- Philipp is here, Philipp Wehle and David Miller, are working actively with our teams to see how we can replicate the success we had in Asia, in IWM. And I think there's a big upside there. Because if you look, APAC is CHF 220 billion of assets, IWM is bigger, CHF 370 billion.

The ultra-high net worth share is 65% in Wealth, 60% in IWM. And if you look at our market share, we have strategic clients, so very large clients. In Asia, we managed to do 85% of our deals, okay? And that's what generates all those revenues we've talked about and made us #1 in Asia. In IWM, we only do 20%. So that means a lot of that business they do with other banks. They do it, but they do it with other banks, when they are major clients of Credit Suisse. So this is an opportunity we want to pursue.

Moving on, that was a bit on wealth management market. When we started, it was really a big challenge. You saw the capital, 51% in markets, very capital-intensive, low return with increasing capital requirements because we knew that the regulation was only going to make that picture worse. So it was very important to restructure global markets. Shrink it -- rightsizing it, we said, sorry, that's more correct. Rightsizing it and derisking it. And really focusing on the areas where we could make a reasonable return. That's why we got out of [Rates], and we made some pretty drastic decisions then. We said that equities was key, and we were weak in equities. We needed to get better at equities. And also something that just at the time was nonexistent was getting them to work with Wealth Management, what we call our connectivity to Wealth Management. What you've seen with ITS. And also leveraging our capabilities globally, and finally, driving revenue growth.

So if you look at what we've done, in this context -- sorry, you can just stay a second. When we were in '15, it was flat. Revenue sales and trading revenue, [USD 158 billion, USD 163 billion]. Our forecast was that this was not going to grow, and there are 2 [counts] in the industry, those who thought it was going to grow and those who didn't. We didn't. And we've been proven correct. The market and the revenues have been in decline. And our strategy was based on this to say, look, if you're in a market that builds overcapacity and thus declining, you need to focus on some areas where you can do well and get out of the risk. So that's what we did.

On the next slide, we significantly reduced the size of the unit by 46%. The leverage and the value at risk, which is a measure of the level of risk we take. And then on the next slide, please. This is, I think, the best picture we can give of what happened. Because the light blue is the cost. And when we were cutting the cost and closing down activities, the big worry in the market was the attrition, how much revenue are we going to lose. Because in those activities, what happens after this issue -- let's say, we have a desk with 10 traders, you cut 2. What happens is your fixed costs don't change because you just have the same building, square meters, IT and you lose revenue. That's really what people are always afraid of. That's why so many banks have failed in their restructuring of Global Markets because you get into a death spiral.

You cut and what happens is everything gets worse. Your profit goes down. Your revenue goes down even faster. So that was the big risk. And I have to say, Brian and his team did, I think, a phenomenal job because they managed to preserve revenue during all that period, take the cost down by, as you can see here, CHF 1.4 billion. And then we always said once we restructure, we're going to grow revenue. And that's what we've been able to do in '19. And that's one of the reasons why we're so pleased with the development in '19. And it's led to a major increase in profit that you can see in the next page.

If you look at -- please, sorry, fixed income and equities. In both, we've been doing better than the market and significantly better. In 4Q, 73% increase in revenue versus 54% of the market for fixed income. And the whole year, 29% for us versus 6%. So we gained market share and equities, which was historically a bit weak for us. We've been also doing better than the market, and we're really pleased and brand -- create a brand, but we now know 6 in equities, and that's a big development for us. So a good story with a PTI that has been much higher.

In '18, well, you can see, we're at 2% return on RWA, 1% return on leverage. And we've really completely changed in 2019 with 11% return on RWA, 7% return on leverage. That's really a very good performance and improving. And we said this morning that Q1 is very strong, across the board. In Jan, a very good start. So this picture is not changing.

So I'm trying here to summarize the kind of 2015-2019 journey. If we look at kind of the key usual financial indicators at the top, net income we had a CHF 2.9 billion loss in '15, CHF 3.4 billion in '19 profit as you saw this morning. For Wealth Management [related] PTI, has gone from CHF 2.7 billion to CHF 4.7 billion. Clearly, the strategy was to grow Wealth Management and shrink the Global Market and the Sales and Trading. So often, people add the 2 and say, Credit is not growing, we don't agree with that. We are growing in the business we want to grow in. And this is what it shows you. We're probably not growing very strongly, but clearly, because the strategy was to shrink the other business that has led to some loss of revenue and profit. But net-net, we think that the profits are of much higher quality. If you remember the slide I showed with the volatility, we shrank the business that has a high volatility, and we grew the business that has a low volatility. So the mix and the quality of our earnings 4 years later is much better and more stable.

The other measure of growth is net new assets. We will give you 2 numbers here, went from [47 to 79]. It's a good positive evolution. It's very important for us to continue to take NNA. NNA is something we look at over the medium-term because short term, it can be quite volatile. So we only look at it over 2, 3 years for it to be significant. Because otherwise, it's something that you can manipulate. If you want a lot of NNA, you can just do an economic transaction. Tell the -- [a billionaire], you're going to pay him 1% on his deposit and he'll bring you CHF 400 million, and that's NNA. It's NNA but it's not profit. So we've always been very focused on making sure that we don't just grow the NNA, but we also grow the profit, as you can see on the line above. The NNA has grown a lot, but the profit has grown a lot too. And that's quite difficult to do.

AUM has grown. CET1 capital is -- I showed you the slide, CHF 29 billion, [46.8]. And CET1 ratio, this is actually -- if you look -- if you computed the 10.2% on today's basis, it will be like 8%. So the capital position has been really transformed so that we are really in a safe place now. Cost base has been very much reduced from CHF 21 billion to CHF 17 billion. And then in terms of risk, value at risk has gone down a lot, kind of market risk we take level 3 assets, which was a historic problem that we carried on our balance sheet, have been cleaned up a lot too to CHF 16 billion. And leverage was -- when we started, we were severely leverage constrained, [CHF 439 billion] of leverage. We had actually -- I've talked a lot about the CET1, the leverage ratio was worse because it was 2.7%. We had the lowest in Europe. So it was really key to increase the leverage ratio for our future viability.

So really, that's what we've done. A lot of the previous slide is about return on capital. All those elements drive return on capital. But it's important also to have a good return of capital to the shareholders, which had been an issue in the past. We started the buyback last year. Actually, I think you -- we can see in Europe, this is a trend. I think if you're at a bank now, that comes up. I think banks are realizing that they should not pay high dividends. It's a big constraint on their balance sheet and their profitability. And more and more banks are moving to this model, which is to have a lower dividend, have a big buyback, which you can then flex depending on the conditions, and that's the model we adopted last year. And we had said at the Investor Day, we do the same thing in 2020. We are increasing the dividend. We propose to increase the dividend by about 5%. So we built CHF 0.277. And we announced that we do at least CHF 1 billion of buyback in 2020 and work hard to achieve a 10% parity.

So really, if you wrap up on all this, it's really been based on a belief that global wealth increases, and that's been validated. I believe that we need a balance between our home market of Switzerland where we're very much focused. We built what I think is a great bank in Switzerland that's been making a lot of progress. We're now 57% cost income ratio, spread position, but also be a big player in emerging markets. I've talked about Asia. The fact that we may -- has also done well. And we think that, that balance is very important.

We're also I think innovated with the creation of ITS and really this collaboration between wealth management and investment banking in the ultra segment, which has worked very well in Asia, it has worked well in ITS. We've also created now ATS, which is the equivalent of ATS -- ITS in Asia. And some of recovery in Asian markets is down to ATS, which has done very, very well.

In Q4, revenue in Asia markets were up 75% year-on-year. So we think that all that together, consistent growth, the disciplined execution, will allow us to achieve a double-digit RoTE, return on tangible equity, we want to achieve. And the start of 1Q, I think it's the first time in my time that we've been able to say, but really across all divisions, we had a very strong start to 1Q. And that was the objective of everything that's been done, is get the bank in a place where we are less dependent on the variations of the world economy and we can start every year, hopefully, in a positive way, like we just did.

So I will stop here. Thomas, are you ready to come on stage? And Thomas Gottstein will address you before we move to Q&A. Thank you.

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Thomas P. Gottstein, Credit Suisse Group AG - Member of the Executive Board & CEO [4]

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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm honored to be succeeding Tidjane Thiam as CEO of Credit Suisse Group. This is a tremendous responsibility, and I have great respect for the task ahead. I'm excited and I'm very much looking forward to this new challenge. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chairman, Urs Rohner, and the Board of Directors for entrusting me with this important mandate. In particular, I would also like to thank Tidjane for his unwavering commitment and contribution to Credit Suisse since he joined us in summer 2015. I have worked alongside Tidjane on the ExB since October that year. I got to know him as an inspirational CEO with a strong strategic mind and a management style which was always based on partnership and professionalism. On a personal note, I'm privileged to call Tidjane a friend, even though he's an Arsenal supporter.

Today, Credit Suisse is standing on a very strong foundation. Our 2019 results, as announced this morning, are a testament to the significant progress we have made in the last 4.5 years. Credit Suisse is extremely well positioned to serve our clients and create value for our shareholders. Under the leadership of Urs and Tidjane, this management team has followed a clear and consistent strategy, which is to be a global leader in wealth management with strong investment banking capabilities, and we see no reason to change it. As structure follows strategy, I currently have also no plans to change the divisional setup of the group, which has proven to be very successful.

I'm also delighted and humbled that each of the existing ExB members who are all here except Helman, who decided to be prudent and stay in Singapore given the travel restrictions, so that each of the ExB members have expressed their full support and confidence in me. Together, we are fully motivated as we write the next chapter in the history of this formidable institution. An institution which was founded in 1856 by Alfred Escher, one of the most successful entrepreneurs whom this country has ever seen.

Over the years, this heritage was further enriched with acquisitions such as Bank Leu, Volksbank as well as First Boston, (inaudible) or DLJ. And this diverse and entrepreneurial DNA is still in all of us today in 2020 and is one of the reasons why we see ourselves as the bank for entrepreneurs in every geography.

Going forward, I see many attractive opportunities to grow in each of our 5 divisions. And this growth should, for the first time in a long time, also be based on the reinvestment of surplus capital. This is why we reconfirm our financial ambitions for 2020 as stipulated at our Investor Day last December, including an RoTE of 10%. Whilst the last few weeks and months were not easy for all of us. It is now time to look forward and shape the future of our company. I feel privileged to work for Credit Suisse, particularly having been at the bank for over 20 years. We have a strong corporate culture, which is based on Swiss reliability, international financing expertise as well as entrepreneurship, teamwork, diversity, integrity and trust. We encourage an open dialogue amongst our almost 50,000 employees worldwide. Consequently, it is our goal on the ExB to continue to engage with our colleagues across all geographies with the goal to further intensify such internal exchange of ideas.

Finally, over the coming couple of months, I will also be in close contact with external stakeholders, including our shareholders, analysts, regulators and you, the media representatives. And we are looking forward to engaging in active dialogue and to working with you. Thank you.

And with this, I would like to hand back to Dominique who will field the questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Dominique Gerster, Credit Suisse Group AG - Head of Corporate Communications Switzerland [1]

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We will now begin the Q&A part of the conference. Thank you, Thomas. We'll first take questions in the room. (inaudible)

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Unidentified Analyst, [2]

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Two questions for Mr. Thiam, please. One forward-looking, one backward-looking and a general one. If you're looking back to the last more or less 5 years, is there anything that you regret, not only on strategic thing because the bank is doing well, as we have seen, but generally, is there something you would like to -- when you think about the maybe you may missed a point or could have done better? And secondly, maybe it's a little early, but what will you do in the future? That's any plans you will stay in the financial sector or going to pull [this] to IMF or something around? Maybe some -- share ideas would be interesting to see.

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Tidjane Thiam;Chief Executive Officer, [3]

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Thank you. Thank you very much, (inaudible). I'll take the opportunity to thank you because we've met in these meetings many times and it's a collective thank you to all of you for attending these meetings over the years. I think it's our 19th -- it's my 19th quarterly results here and the last one. Look, of course, I mean, when you lead such a complex organization, one always thinks one could have done better. I mean I've expressed regretting rating for recent incidents. Yes. I'm very sorry they happened. So that will sum it up.

I think technically, there's one thing which played a role. I talked about it on the Analyst Call. When we started in '15, we developed illustrating kind of July, August, September, and we were rushing for October to announce a news organization in [West Capital]. And everything flipped during that period on a very well single P&L in August '15, and it's like this ground open under our feet. Everybody was here. Just the numbers I couldn't believe, and the market melted down continuously. So if you recall, the strategy was a long-term view but also tactical. It was kind of developed in a world that then completely -- if you remember, Q4 '15, the markets just -- oil price collapsed. It was a complete shock to the initial strategy. And we faced a very difficult phase.

And I'm actually really proud of what we did, which was to say, I don't know how to say this in English, we are not [coping]. We have to -- we just have to take the heat and the humiliation and who will criticize us, but we have to do what's right. So we actually really shifted. And in February, March, I presented a new plan, and everybody laughed saying, oh, here's this idiot saying -- sorry, not idiot. This person, he just developed a strategy, and now he's turning a completely -- consistency can be a refute for fools. If the things change, you change your position. And the environment had completely changed. And really, if we had not had the courage to do that at the time, we wouldn't be here today.

So I don't know if it's a regret or -- but it was a big thing because then we had to drive this new plan just after having developed the -- I mean, David, you were involved in this with me. It was not easy. But really, the things that have worked now are a result of that. But we really shrank global market much more -- made much more drastic choices and that got us to where we are. So it's what it is. Future plans, no it's very simple. I -- this is my one before last event. If I -- after this one, we'll have a Town Hall with Thomas and a Global Town Hall and our staff and hopefully, tomorrow, I'm going to go and get some rest, wishing everybody well.

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Dominique Gerster, Credit Suisse Group AG - Head of Corporate Communications Switzerland [4]

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Next question from Sam Jones, Financial Times.

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Sam Jones;Financial Times, [5]

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The numbers you presented today seem to be a clear indication of your time as CEO and your strategy, and 2 investigations by an independent law firm have exonerated you of any involvement in some of the incidents over the last few months. So why are you resigning?

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Tidjane Thiam;Chief Executive Officer, [6]

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First of all, I would not use -- thank you for your question, but I will not use the word vindication. That's not how I look at the world. I just want to [move on] that. I'm pleased for the colleagues and the staff because it's been -- forget even the recent tension or stress. We're in a tough industry. Very competitive. To produce the type of numbers the teams that Credit Suisse have produced in that period is not easy. So I'm pleased that that's manifesting itself in actual numbers, not just promises. But before I have to say, look, I can't believe this is going to happen. So life usually is much more comfortable when I'd say, look, we've done CHF 3 billion of profits. So that's good. Look, very simple. We discussed it with the Board. I serve, you say in English, at the pleasure of the Board.

And if the Board decides that there should be a change of leadership, it's my duty to make it happen. And that's what I'm doing. And I'm doing that with a clear conscience, which is in my life what really matters to me. So pleased to pass the baton to Thomas. I really -- I can say modestly I've promoted him a few years ago. Remember our meeting when I told you, you were going to take over -- first of all, I've created a Swiss bank, and you're going to run it. And can I say, you were a bit concerned, is that okay?

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Thomas P. Gottstein, Credit Suisse Group AG - Member of the Executive Board & CEO [7]

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Absolutely.

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Tidjane Thiam;Chief Executive Officer, [8]

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And I said, it's a bit -- it's the biggest unit in the bank. Yes. I've been CEO before. No, before you become CEO -- everybody you've never been CEO, and that's the way it is. And I'm super pleased. I mean it's my -- if you notice at Prudential, my successor was internal and now at Credit Suisse, my successor is internal. For me, that's a measure of success, really. I think companies that are well managed and do well have internal successor. I'm super pleased that it's Thomas. You said some very kind words. I'm saying some kind words in return. He's not only a very good business leader, but he's also a good person and a great colleague. So -- and some of you have heard me say this, I always work for Prudential results. I said, it's not my job description to make myself indispensable. It is to build something that lasts.

And I'm very proud when I've run a company, and the company continues to do well. I run into somebody in London, they say you weren't that important, at Prudential, company's doing so well without you. I just smile. I say, well, I think I have something to do with that. And I hope I can say the same thing about Credit Suisse. When I see Q1, I'm really pleased. I think we've built something of quality. I think the numbers are coming through. I'm very happy to be able to leave the same. The outlook is positive. Q1 is going to be a great quarter. And that's about all you can do in life. I'm not -- okay. I've paid such a high price for making bad truth, I'll just stop here.

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Dominique Gerster, Credit Suisse Group AG - Head of Corporate Communications Switzerland [9]

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Next question is from (inaudible).

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Unidentified Analyst, [10]

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Mr. Thiam, let's look a little bit back concerning -- in the context of the surveillance scandal as well. You have been -- obviously, they're discussing with the Board. Wasn't it not only because the bank is in a good shape? We heard it. Wasn't it this the main cause why you have to leave the bank?

Second question is after media reports precisely and etcetera, will that not only Mr. Khan has been monitored but also Mr. Goerke, by one of your key analysts -- key allies by Olivier Bouée. You published a statement on Instagram, saying that you can no longer be silent because of the level of misinterpretation. Why haven't you come forward early to create more transparency concerning the far-reaching accusations?

And the third question will be after your last day at Credit Suisse, which is tomorrow, have you got any plans to return to politics anytime soon?

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Tidjane Thiam;Chief Executive Officer, [11]

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Okay. Thank you for the question. Look, I mean people can analyze and try to say what was the cause. As I said earlier and that's all I can say about it, I serve at the pleasure of the Board. And if the Board thinks there should be a change of leadership, it's my duty to make that happen. Speaking earlier, I'm really glad you asked that, really glad. The problem is as soon as these things started, I was an object of the investigations. And the people who work with me here know I'm a stickler for rules. So I was never going to either intervene or say anything or be seen as interfering as a CEO. It was very simple. I was part of the investigation. I was being investigated and interviewed. So I would have to be very careful, but I didn't take any step in my role as CEO that could be seen as trying to influence the process. That's very simple. So I had to stay silent. Anything I would have said, being myself the object of investigations, would have been misinterpreted.

And Instagram, it is something -- I'll say this is something -- we've had many studies on whether I should be on social media or not. It's not something that just went through my head one night, and I delete the next morning. We have reports, some announcements on Twitter. I don't want to advertise, whatever, the Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram. There's a whole strategy behind that. And actually, just for your information, everything -- I don't even know how to post on Instagram. Everything that's been posted was posted by the core Communications Department of Credit Suisse, and I've read everywhere, but I don't know what to say here, let's just say that. That's a fact. I don't know how to post on Instagram. So this was done in collaboration with the company. As part of the strategy, we launched it at -- in Davos.

The statement that I made was about a very specific allegation. We did some -- look, so many allegations from my helicopter usage, which is just completely untrue, untrue to this case. I was supposed to have asked somebody to get some dirt on somebody here. And I'm a human being. Some days, I mean I take a lot of accusations that one just -- sorry, I just couldn't take -- it was just a lie. So I took to Instagram to address that. I did. And that's about all there is to say about it. It's -- I do -- with (inaudible) that it was announced I was on Instagram in an interview with her. So I do prefer that I now have more followers than she does, considering that work for Bloomberg, so we had a good laugh. But look, it is what it is.

So finally, whatever, honestly, it's early days. It's been -- I've given 5 years of my life to this company. That's not nothing. I'm proud of what we accomplished. I'm going to get some rest and be with my family. And after that, we'll see.

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Dominique Gerster, Credit Suisse Group AG - Head of Corporate Communications Switzerland [12]

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We're running a bit out of time, but I think we've got time for one last question. Gentleman in the front?

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Unidentified Participant, [13]

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(inaudible) Swiss Television (inaudible). So if you achieve a great job, you now have the truth to your success. The strategy was good, but that's the manner of doing things did not sit to Swiss mentality. This is my question. Will it be difference, I don't know in England or in another...

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Tidjane Thiam;Chief Executive Officer, [14]

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I don't know because I can say even in Switzerland, I haven't talked about it. I want to thank here, actually, all my Instagram followers. I want to thank all the people. If I read to you -- I was tempted to read to you some of the messages I get from the staff. They are very moving. Since it's been announced that I'm stepping down. And -- but I can tell you in Switzerland, there are differences -- within Switzerland in how people feel about me. So that's life. That's life. I -- all I can say, in confidence, every second, I've done the best I could. I am who I am. I cannot change who I am. I cannot -- I act sincerely and to the best of my abilities. I always spoke that it's the essence of injustice to hold against somebody what they are. The same way, I was born a right hand -- I cannot change the fact that I'm right-handed. Now if people don't like right-handed people, I'm in trouble. That's all I can say. Because I can't become left-handed.

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Unidentified Participant, [15]

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Thank you very much.

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Tidjane Thiam;Chief Executive Officer, [16]

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Thank you.

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Dominique Gerster, Credit Suisse Group AG - Head of Corporate Communications Switzerland [17]

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Thanks. I think we'll leave it there. Thank you for all your time today. And for those of you here in the room, we hope you can join us for some refreshments in the lobby. For those on the call, as we weren't able to get to your questions or if you have any follow-up questions, please do contact the media team in the usual way. Thank you very much.