Credit Suisse denies it has abandoned UK online banking venture

A staff reporter, 19 February 2001


Credit Suisse Financial Services has refuted market reports that it has withdrawn Global Investor Portfolio, the UK version of its online in...

Credit Suisse Financial Services has refuted market reports that it has withdrawn Global Investor Portfolio, the UK version of its online investment and banking product. The pan-European venture was announced in September last year and went live in November. Initially offered to UK and German private clients, it allows users to deal in shares on 15 stock markets, including London, Frankfurt and New York. The service is targeted at Europe’s “new affluents” and Credit Suisse plans to sign up 1m private clients in five years, generating £20bn in assets under management.

But a report in theGuardian, published last weekend, said that the bank had revealed that the service is not operable in the UK and would be discontinued shortly. An unidentified Credit Suisse spokesman allegedly told the paper that the bank would concentrate its efforts on developing DLG Direct, an online share-dealing product run by Donald Lufkin and Jenrette, which Credit Suisse acquired last year. DLJ Direct already has 50,000 users in the UK and has started to offer investment products such as individual savings accounts.

The newspaper report was a misunderstanding, according to Ruth Stadelmann, at Credit Suisse in Switzerland. “It is simply wrong. The fact is that the site is up and running and performing very well,” she said. The product is currently being offered to investors in the UK, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Stadelmann said that GIP had more than a hundred users in the UK, but declined to give specific details, because the site has only undergone a soft launch and has not been properly marketed.

Stadelmann insisted that DLJ Direct would not replace GIP and that there is a place for both in the private client market. “DLG Direct is a different product. It is targeted at similar client groups and has a similar philosophy but it is a different tool,” she explained. Credit Suisse is currently re-examining the marketing strategy of both services and will begin the GIP campaign in April or May of this year

The confusion over the future of Credit Suisse’s venture follows moves by other banks to cut back on their online services. JP Morgan Chase & Co announced last month that that it would revise Morgan Online, its private banking web site. The US bank abandoned plans to target a new tide of affluent investors and said that it would instead focus on its existing clients. Earlier it had also announced it would be laying off 150 staff from the project as it rationalised its business objectives. Meanwhile, Charles Schwab, the leading US online broker, scaled back and introduced a hiring freeze last month. Prudential Securities and Merrill Lynch & Co have also said they are bringing in austerity measures.

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