Some Credit Suisse traders blame Christian Meissner for their disappearance

Who Killed Credit Suisse’s Fixed Income Trading Business? Some Swiss bank insiders think they know the culprit and it is not their own trading sense.

“The responsibility for this mess lies with Christian Meissner,” says a former managing director of trading activities at Credit Suisse. “He bet entirely on the consultancy division, which he understood because of his experience. But he put the rest of the business aside, and that led to lower revenues, the exit of the best players and a loss of $1.6 billion in the first half of 2022.”

Christian Meisner no longer works for Credit Suisse and did not respond to a request for comment for this article. He left the bank in July 2022 after taking over as head of investment banking in October 2020. An investment banker by trade, he spent 10 years at Goldman Sachs, where he became Head of European Equity Capital Markets before heading the investment bank at Lehman, Nomura. and Bank of America Merill Lynch.

Meissner may be an exemplary investment banker, but he was never a trader and he never ran a business venture. Critics say it was during the reign of Meissner, when Credit Suisse, coincidentally combined its previously separate investment banking and trading businesses under one umbrella, that the bank’s top credit traders were neglected and then quit.

These outings included Hamza Lemssouguer end of 2020, David Goldenberg in mid-2021 and a flurry of others (including Jonathan Moore, Kru Patel, Jonathan Fisher, Natarajan Rajendran) in 2022. At the same time, the bank has lost the big beasts of the securitization business that it now aims to sell, with the exit, for example, of the global head of securitized products Mike Dryden at Sixth Street in March of this year.

The result is that Credit Suisse’s fixed income sales and trading income fell 42% in the first half of 2022, while Deutsche Bank fixed income sales and trading revenue grew 22%. As Credit Suisse prepares a restructuring of its investment bank which is widely believed to focus the pain on its fixed income sellers and traders, Deutsche Bank is busy praising its own traders for generate revenue top of its forecast for the year.

It’s a substantial drop for a trading company that has produced some of the best traders of a generation. Ironically, First Boston, the name Credit Suisse may now be resurrecting for its investment banking rump, staffed mostly by investment bankers rather than traders, was previously known as a credit trading house and not a investment banking shop. Some traders who left the bank in the past year had been there for decades. Although the bank stopped calling itself “Credit Suisse First Boston” in 2006, its old CSFB emails still work today.

However, not everyone agrees that Meissner is the culprit. For many, he was just the final nail in a coffin lovingly built by the Swiss board. “Uhrs Rohner and the Swiss bureaucrats killed CS,” says a former trader. “The death of the business enterprise began in 2015 when they got rid of Gael de Boissard and began to lose meritocracy. They kept mediocre people, didn’t cut where they should have and didn’t invest. Invest to promote Gaël or Jim Amin head of the investment bank, then they brought in a stranger who didn’t know what to do.”

Meissner never really had a chance, he says. “Mismanagement by the board and the president has killed what was once a great meritocracy.”

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