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This Big Bank Just Made it a Lot Easier to Get Promoted

February 18, 2016

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Credit Suisse Group AGPhotograph by Bloomberg--Getty Images

Credit Suisse (CS) will establish a fast-track program for top-performing investment banking juniors, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters, as major banks step up efforts to attract and retain their lower ranks.

The investment bank told juniors on Thursday that it would make changes to its promotion cycle in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, bringing it in line with the U.S. where the practice was introduced in summer 2013, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters. A spokeswoman for Credit Suisse confirmed the plans.

The program, due to start in July, will enable top-performing analysts—the first rung on the investment banking ladder—to become associates in just two years rather than three, meaning they can reach vice-president level after 5-1/2 years rather than 6-1/2.

Credit Suisse’s moves are part of a trend among investment banks. Deutsche Bank (DB) told staff in October it would shift its promotion cycle so analysts move up after two years rather than 2-1/2, two separate sources said, declining to be named since the moves are not public. Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

“Promoting people more quickly is a retention tool as the chances of the superstars leaving become slim,” said Jeanne Branthover, leader of global financial services at executive search firm Boyden in New York. “If you’re aggressive and good you’ll be promoted faster and you may not want to leave.”

Before the global financial crisis, pay packets were larger and promotion timeframes more flexible. But since then banks have been struggling to retain juniors, who have been increasingly lured into other industries including technology and private equity, in search of shorter hours and higher wages.

Regular rounds of redundancies at banks in recent years and the lengthy working hours of junior bankers have dented banking’s allure.

Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs (GS) unveiled in November a series of changes designed to retain junior bankers, including promoting them more quickly and encouraging mobility within the firm.


Credit Suisse will review its analyst class of 2014 around May or June this year, before launching the fast-track program in July, one of the sources said.

It will also broaden its mobility program, currently generally available to more senior bankers, to allow more junior staff more options to move around and gain different experiences within the investment banking and capital markets business, the source said.

As banks grapple with very low interest rates and an uncertain economic environment, they have resorted to cost controls to boost profits. Credit Suisse this month reported its first full-year loss since 2008, missing estimates, partly due to a big impairment charge at its investment banking business.

The Swiss lender said it had accelerated cost savings and was cutting around 4,000 jobs.