Credit Suisse restricts bankers' benefit packages

City A.M. Reporter
SWISS investment bank Credit Suisse is to subject more of its bankers to deferred compensation programmes and cut cash payouts, following growing demands from politicians that banks limit bonus payments.

Switzerland's second-largest bank said on Monday it will apply the changes to its 2010 pay round, in a move that follows stricter bonuses rules imposed across the rest of Europe.

Toughened pay regulation has yet to quash intense public scrutiny over year-end payouts, however, and governments are struggling to ward off a backlash against excessive rewards as details of top bankers' pay packages begin to emerge.

Credit Suisse said the changes were made against a backdrop of emerging regulation and market practices and in dialogue with regulators and shareholders.

It will see a lower portion of bonuses paid in cash, and shares granted under the 2010 bonus scheme delivered annually between 2012 and 2015.

The upside and downside potential of the awards would be based on the share price performance and there would no longer be "leverage features" that could potentially boost the number of shares awarded based on future performance, the bank said.

The measures also include bonus clawback clauses similar to the ones drawn up in guidelines for European Union members at the end of December, with Credit Suisse able to cancel deferred bonuses if bankers engaged in activities that caused material financial or reputational harm to the bank.

Switzerland's top bankers have come under fire after Credit Suisse last year awarded CEO Brady Dougan shares worth around 71 million Swiss francs (£47m) under a five-year bonus plan.

The Swiss government began a legal process to tighten regulation of its top banks, including the right to force banks that are bailed out by the state to make changes to bonuses and even cancelling payouts.

After bringing in a new pay structure last year, Credit Suisse's revamped rules will see it lower the threshold for deferred bonus restrictions to 50,000 Swiss francs from 125,000 francs, leaving more employees subject to the measures.