Euromoney, August 23 2018
Francesco de Ferrari was running private banking for Asia at Credit Suisse – arguably one of the most important and well-positioned roles in the bank – so why has he given it up to become CEO of beleaguered Australian wealth manager AMP, a place so toxic it lost its chief executive and chairperson within a fortnight in April?
The news that Francesco de Ferrari is to leave his role as head of Asia-Pacific private banking at Credit Suisse to take on the CEO job at troubled Australian wealth manager AMP has taken the industry by surprise.
De Ferrari is leaving a powerful job at Credit Suisse, where he has worked for 17 years. It is arguably one of the most important in the whole bank: private banking is core to Credit Suisse’s recovery, and Asia is the most dynamic part of it.
The crossover between private banking and investment banking that is instrumental to Credit Suisse’s strategy finds its clearest expression in Asia, as the emerging entrepreneurs served by the private bank present opportunities for corporate finance, structured lending, capital markets and advisory.
In addition to running the private bank regionally, De Ferrari was the CEO of southeast Asia and frontier markets – also one of the key strengths of the bank, which stands out as a leader in markets including Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan.
He could presumably have stayed in this job indefinitely, secure amid ever-rising wealth assets that crossed CHF200 billion in Apac earlier this year, enjoying the commitment of risk-weighted assets to Asia from the Swiss board, and the knowledge that he was at the heart of a bank moving in the right direction in Asia.
Instead, he has opted to go to AMP, which is an altogether different proposition.
AMP’s brand is not globally renowned, but in Australia it is absolutely part of the fabric of everyday life. Its logo adorns not just one but two of the landmark towers visible from Sydney Harbour on Circular Quay, between the icons of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Its boardroom has one of the best views in the country.
In the highly sophisticated, intermediated and asset-heavy Australian wealth management market, where investment platforms dominate the market structure, AMP ranked second in the Australian industry as of March 2018, according to research group Strategic Insight, with A143.1 billion under management, representing 17.7% of the Australian market. It is second in the market for retail managed funds (A$149.7 billion, 16.8% of the market), and a top-10 player in wholesale funds under management, according to Strategic Insight. It has 170 years of history.
It is also in a great deal of trouble.