Top Credit Suisse Wealth Management Interview Questions
Credit Suisse offers one of the oldest and most storied wealth management practices. Credit Suisse offers a global and integrated platform that for a young person looking to get their start should be highly enticing as it will allow for access to a wide diversity of bespoke products and expertise.
Like many investment banks - that are shuttering from increased regulations post-financial crisis - Credit Suisse has doubled down on its already strong wealth management platform. Every indication is that over the past decade CS has strived to increase market penetration, broaden the mandate of its wealth managers, and try to compete aggressively for new business.
As I've mentioned many times before - when talking about firms like Goldman and UBS - you should expect wealth management interviews at Credit Suisse to be significantly more rigorous than you'd expect at smaller independent wealth managers.
In particular, you should expect to be able to talk about markets and products in a relatively advanced fashion. No one expects you to be an expert in everything, of course. In particular if you're just doing a summer internship program. However, you should be prepared for some of the interview questions we will be covering below.
Credit Suisse Wealth Management Interview Questions
The following are five of the top interview questions you must have carefully crafted answers for. As you'll see, the answers provided to the questions below show a contextual understanding of what wealth management really is in practice.
Whenever I do a write up on the most common interview questions for wealth management, I always include the famous "Why" question. It's obvious, but it's also always asked.
In fact, it comes up so often that I dedicated an entire post to it here.
For Credit Suisse in particular, you want to touch on the points I brought up in the introduction of this post. CS has a global brand, has one of the largest wealth management platforms, and has a diversity of proprietary products (like their own structured notes).
Further, the wealth management training program isn't run in some ad hoc fashion - like at some independent shops - but rather provides in-depth, real-world training that provides the best possible opportunity to succeed.
While joining a large corporation always has its faults - like bureaucracy and restriction on what exactly you can do - it also has the benefit of providing you the most structured way to break into the industry and (most importantly) stay within the industry.
Wealth management is, at the end of the day, a people business and a sales job. Part of what your day-to-day life will involve is calling up folks who are either clients or could one day turn into clients.
As a result, it's always a bad idea to come into a wealth management interview and not have spoken to anyone who's actually in the industry.
When asked this question you should immediately start going over the number of existing, successful wealth managers that you've talked to. You should then talk about their advice to you, what pros and cons they think the role has, and what kinds of people are likely to succeed in the industry.
This way you can frame your answer to how you know wealth management is right for you by illustrating that you've taken the initiative to talk to folks in the industry and find everything they've told you has aligned with your expectations.
After all, the best way to know anything in life is right for you is via seeing people like you succeed in that thing!
One thing interviewers will often do is try to see whether or not you really know what wealth management is, or are just interested in the job because it sounds fancy and you'll be able to tell people you work at a fancy bank.
Wealth managers - at places like CS, MS, GS, etc. - are not going to clients and pitching specific equity investments to them. For example, no one is going to a client and saying they should put 10% of their net worth in Tesla.
Instead, wealth managers are seeking to pitch their clients strategies that align with the client's long term goals in a way that is prudent. So while a client may express an interest in riskier tech exposure, that tech exposure will probably be pitched to a client in a format that gives them a more broad exposure to this category than can be achieved by hand picking equities.
This is a great question that is both practical and requires you to have a rough understanding of where markets are today.
First of all, the question doesn't specify what bonds we're referring to here, which you should point out. If we're talking about government bonds - like U.S. treasuries - then absolutely the coupons the client will be getting will be roughly at or below what CPI (inflation) is, which is not ideal.
However, a client could be given exposure to investment grade corporate bonds - or even high yield - that provides for non-trivial yield (above inflation) while also not taking on too much credit risk (obviously, high yield will come with more credit risk, but more yield, than investment grade bonds).
Second, returns are only part of the equation when it comes to managing wealth. Another part of the equation is managing the principal balance of wealth as well. While government bonds across the developed world may not be giving much of any return - when adjusted for inflation - they do provide as much safety as can possible be achieved.
Given that equity markets in 2021 are looking quite frothy and are reasonably volatile, protecting wealth is as important as growing wealth in this kind of environment. This is particularly true of clients who are nearing the retirement stage and have a sufficient pot of capital as to not necessarily need to take excess risks in order to attempt to grow it.
As a wealth manager part of your job will be trying to "manage the cycle" and ensure that irrational exuberance isn't going to blindside your client and their financial goals.
When equity markets reach all time highs, that is not necessarily the time to get out of equities at all (after all, over a long enough time horizon the market has gone up and to the right at roughly 8%, in the U.S., over the past seventy years).
With that being said, when markets get excessively hot it can be time to try to insulate a client if this kind of high volatility exposure is unlikely to align with their goals.
There are a number of ways you can do this, but all begin by looking for either a safer class of assets to allocate more money to or for negatively correlated assets to equities. For the former, this can mean putting more of a client's worth into bonds (either government issued or corporate). For the latter, this can mean assets like gold that generally trade with a reasonably modest negative correlation to equities when equities suffer large downward price pressure.
Ultimately, you want to ensure client's are always invested and that a client doesn't seek to do any irrational - like move entirely to cash - anticipating a market correction that may never occur. However, there are ways to try to dampen down volatility in a client's portfolio and minimize the impact of a large market decline.
Preparing for any wealth management interview can seem daunting, but a large part of preparing well is just knowing the style of questions asked and what is expected in answers.
As I've tried to demonstrate in these few questions, answers need to have a few critical elements to them to really stand out. Half the battle is just understanding what interviewers are looking for in answers and making sure you craft your answers to meet their expectations.
Credit Suisse provides a phenomenal wealth management platform and if you have a chance to get in - via an internship of full-time - then you should not take the opportunity lightly. As you likely already know, the failure rate in wealth management can be quite high. However, when you join the right platform that failure rate declines substantially as you have the training and most importantly the time to get your sea legs.
If you're looking for even more interview questions (over 180, to be exact) then be sure to check out the guide I put together. I decided to write down the most common wealth management interview questions - from behavioral to technical and beyond - because I recognized the utter lack of resources out there for folks looking to break into the industry.
Best of luck in all your studying and preparation!