KEY CHAIN

Panama 2016 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Rainer Hensel, General Manager of Credit Suisse Asesoria (Panama), on entering the market back in 2007 and how Panama acts as a gateway to the region.

How did entering the market in 2007 fit in with the bank's global strategy, and how does operating here compare to other financial centers?

Emerging markets, from Asia to Latin America, are key to the global growth of Credit Suisse and Panama. Because of its key geographic position and talented workforce, it is a natural hub for the region. From here we can easily reach Colombia, Venezuela, and other countries in Central America thanks to the well-developed transport infrastructure. Our main activity in Panama is private banking for ultra-high net-worth individuals who have liquid wealth in excess of $50 million. These are clients to which we can deliver the value-added services of our investment bank. This allows us to serve our clients' individual and corporate needs. I saw this work well when I was in Singapore; Credit Suisse is truly a global bank and this is what makes me passionate about working for it.

Credit Suisse is known throughout the world for its integrated banking business model. How well does this apply in Panama and the surrounding region?

Credit Suisse's integrated banking model means that investment banking works together with private banking. This does not apply so much to Panama, because our operations here are largely focused on private banking, but in other locations such as Colombia there is great synergy with investment banking, which fits into our strategy.

The bank inaugurated its new offices in Costa del Este last year. How else is Credit Suisse consolidating its presence in Panama?

Costa del Este is the place to grow in Panama right now and Panama is ideally located to expand our exposure in Latin America in terms of both clients and important markets. We're in a sweet spot in terms of regional time zones as well.

Where else has Credit Suisse expanded its operations since 2007?

We have representative offices in Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, as well as an advisory office similar to this one in Chile. What we currently cover from here in addition to Panama is mainly Colombia, Central America, and parts of Venezuela and Ecuador.

Looking ahead, do you envisage further reforms in the local banking sector?

I am sure there will be. A delegation recently signed the OECD 26 Automatic Exchange of Information Agreement, which will come into effect in Panama beginning in 2018. Other countries will start sooner; Switzerland will adopt the accord in 2016. Our industry is completely changing right now, and recent reforms will benefit the sector in the long term.

What are your goals and expectations for 2016?

We see tremendous growth opportunities in the region and we are here to stay. We expect to expand in Panama and Colombia in the near term, and probably in Venezuela in the medium term. Central America also presents opportunities that are best served from Panama as a regional hub. We are extremely confident about the sector; wealth is growing in Latin America and our industry is changing and, with our integrated banking model, Credit Suisse is ideally positioned to serve our existing and future clients. With its political stability, strong labor force, and the well-developed infrastructure, Panama is the ideal place for us to be.