Credit Suisse opens the hood and grants unprecedented insights into its IT

Credit Suisse heaped disappointments and heckling in the stock market, offering its investors a “deep dive” in its transformation efforts with a goal of reducing operating expenses by CHF 200 million by 2023. “Despite a challenging market environment, we are resolutely focused on executing our strategic plan in the transition year 2022, as well as strengthening our risk culture while remaining close to our clients, which is key. At the same time, we are driving forward the digital transformation of the bank, which is essential for building a robust, scalable and at the same time agile and future-oriented organization,” he explained on this occasion, the managing director of the institution Thomas Gottstein.

100,000 servers, 24,400 employees and 3.2 billion annual budget

Among the topics discussed, Joanne Hannaford, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, provided unprecedented insight into Credit Suisse’s IT and its transition to a more centralized model that should deliver the anticipated savings. As you might expect, the company’s IT is a giant within a giant. On the infrastructure side, Credit Suisse has 13 data centers, more than 100,000 physical and virtual servers, around 180 petabytes of stored data and around 90,000 PCs. In particular, these systems support 7 million monthly e-banking sessions in Switzerland and 160 million daily orders on the electronic trading platform.

On the personnel side, the IT & Operations department employs 28,700 people, 24,400 of them in IT. A large part of the teams are based in India, more than half are external and a large third are developers.

On the financial side, the Technology & Operations division has a budget of 3.6 billion for 2022, of which 3.2 billion is for the IT part. 50% of IT spend is on operations, 37.5% on replacement and the rest on maintenance.

Breakdown of the workforce in Credit Suisse’s Technology & Operations division.

Digital, cloud and cybersecurity offering

According to the investor presentation, Credit Suisse’s IT and operations strategy is based on 3 axes: simplifying a fragmented IT environment and promoting its resilience, strengthening a solution-oriented engineering culture and investing in digital growth products. For example, the company intends to make its CSX Mobile Bank a true platform that integrates many products — particularly third-party ones — and will reach 200,000 customers by the end of 2022, up from 150,000 today.

On the system side, Credit Suisse says it is pursuing a cloud-first approach to new developments with the use of native cloud services and a zero-trust multi-cloud strategy.

Banking is also investing heavily in cybersecurity (spending has multiplied 1.7x between 2020 and 2022). Priorities include migrating to a Zero Trust architecture, taking an integrated approach to security by design, and reducing complexity through automation and adoption of best practices.

Centralize and reduce IT costs

It’s also the efforts of the Technology & Operations division that should allow Credit Suisse to make savings. The bank plans to reduce IT spending by CHF 200 million compared to the 2022 budget of CHF 3.2 billion. Half of the savings must come from the run, the other half from the conversion. The bank intends to achieve these goals by driving forward the centralization of its IT, the reduction of redundancies, the abandonment of certain applications, negotiations with suppliers and increases in productivity.

In the medium term, organizational measures (lean-agile, internalization of high-value tasks, etc.) and technologies (platform approach, consolidation of data centers, etc.) are expected to reduce IT spending by a further 400 million.

CTO, CIO, CSO, CPO, CDO

Credit Suisse also detailed the roles of the senior executives who report to Joanne Hannaford, Chief Technology & Operations Officer. As such, the Chief Technology Officer leads the strategy and development of enterprise engineering services, develops core enterprise services, and fosters a culture of innovation and engineering excellence. The Chief Information Officer is responsible for product/platform engineering, providing infrastructure for business units and functions, and driving the modernization of existing technologies. The Chief Security Officer sets the strategic direction for bank-wide information security and has security engineering skills. The Chief Product Officer leads and facilitates the development of products and services that add value to customers and the company. And the Chief Digital Officer defines and executes the strategies to grow digital revenue, improve customer retention, streamline operations and create new business value.

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