Credit Suisse Claims UBS Poached U.S. Private-Banking Staff

  • Files arbitration case with Finra over Swiss rival's hires
  • May hurt transfer of Credit Suisse business to Wells Fargo

Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, is alleging that a unit of UBS Group AG unfairly poached employees from its U.S. private-banking business over the past several months.

Credit Suisse filed a claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority over the matter, according to Mary Sedarat, a spokeswoman for the bank, who didn’t provide additional details.

Wells Fargo & Co. reached an agreement in October with Credit Suisse giving it the inside track on recruiting the Zurich-based company’s private-bank employees as the firm retreats from managing wealth for U.S. clients. About 70 of 300 relationship managers from the business included in the Wells Fargo deal have left for UBS, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named because the departures haven’t been announced.

Gregg Rosenberg, a spokesman for UBS, declined to comment, as did Michelle Ong, a spokeswoman for Finra. Jack Grone, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, said that the bank was having “productive conversations” with Credit Suisse relationship managers, while declining to comment on the arbitration.

Credit Suisse hasn’t pursued claims against individual advisers, Bank Investment Consultant reported last week.

New Strategy

The deal with Credit Suisse would allow its U.S. advisers and clients to move by early next year to Wells Fargo, which is planning to expand in wealth management, the smallest of its three main divisions. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse is shifting strategy under new Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam, who is seeking to bolster returns by focusing on its home market of Switzerland and expanding in Asian wealth management.

While the Wells Fargo deal was intended to make it easier for Credit Suisse advisers to shift companies, those who make the move must remain at the U.S. lender for 13 years to earn the full payout of bonuses tied to the agreements, people with knowledge of the arrangement said earlier this month. That’s longer than the industry’s typical nine-year deal, they said.

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