Credit Suisse Group AG is a Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company founded and based in Switzerland. Headquartered in Zürich, it maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world and is one of the nine global “Bulge Bracket” banks providing services in investment banking, private banking, asset management, and shared services. Credit Suisse is known for its strict bank-client confidentiality and banking secrecy practices.
Credit Suisse was founded in 1856 to fund the development of Switzerland’s rail system. It issued loans that helped create Switzerland’s electrical grid and the European rail system. In the 1900s, it began shifting to retail banking in response to the elevation of the middle class and competition from fellow Swiss banks UBS and Julius Bär. Credit Suisse partnered with First Boston in 1978. After a large failed loan put First Boston under financial stress, Credit Suisse bought a controlling share of the bank in 1988. From 1990 to 2000, the company made a series of acquisitions dramatically increasing their market share via the purchases of Winterthur Group, Swiss Volksbank, Swiss American Securities Inc. (SASI) and Bank Leu, among others.
The company restructured itself in 2002, 2004 and 2006. It was one of the least affected banks during the global financial crisis, but afterwards began shrinking its investment business, executing layoffs and cutting costs. The bank was at the center of multiple international investigation for tax avoidance which culminated in a guilty plea and the forfeiture of US$2.6 billion in fines from 2008 to 2012. In 2017, Credit Suisse had CHF 1.376 trillion of assets under management, an increase of 9.9% from 2016.