Bonuses could be ok at Credit Suisse this year. Even though average compensation per head fell 3% on an accrued basis in the first nine months of 2016 compared to 2015, CEO Tidjane said at Davos that 2016 should be a "reasonable year" for Credit Suisse compensation. New research suggests this may be especially the case in the U.S.
The chart below, from Chirantan Barua and his team at Bernstein Research, shows the (estimated) differences in the cost structure at Credit Suisse in the U.S. compared to Switzerland, the Rest of the World (eg, the UK) and Asia Pacific. It also shows the likely distribution of costs across the bank when Credit Suisse achieves Thiam's latest CHF17bn cost target in 2018.
Credit Suisse's U.S. bankers look a lot more expensive than their peers overseas. Bernstein says 65% of all costs at Credit Suisse in the U.S. are eaten up by pay. This compares to 46% in Switzerland, and 57% in the rest of the world and APAC. Both salaries and bonuses are a significant proportion of Credit Suisse's costs in the Americas.
If Credit Suisse bonuses rise in 2016, its U.S. bankers could be in luck. However, their high pay may prove a problem in the near future. Thiam wants to cut another CHF4bn from costs by 2018. In a best case scenario, Bernstein is predicting cuts of CHF3.2bn, with CHF2.3bn shaved from compensation and bonuses halved. As Thiam cuts costs, Credit Suisse's cosseted U.S. bankers look vulnerable - especially if the dollar keeps rising.
Source: Bernstein Research