Credit Suisse: Maintaining the Skills of a Global Workforce

Credit Suisse Financial Services provides comprehensive financial services in Europre and other markets, offering investment products, private banking and financial advisory services for both private and corporate clients.

Credit Suisse Financial Services provides comprehensive financial services in Europre and other markets, offering investment products, private banking and financial advisory services for both private and corporate clients. With global operations, Credit Suisse is challenged to meet the legal and compliance regulations of numerous countries.


To help manage this training, Credit Suisse has turned toward technology-enabled learning solutions to meet the learning need of its workforce. Using WBT Systems’ TopClass e-Learning Suite, Credit Suisse is able to deliver legal and compliance training to around 54,000 staff members and sales professionals.


Anthony Cerquone, head of Talent Development and Leadership Technology for Credit Suisse Financial Services, explained that rather than forming an educational mission statement based on language that might or might not get across to the organization, Credit Suisse has a “learning architecture,” which he described as a much more practical approach.


“We try to show how the learning structure we have connects to our competency model,” said Cerquone. “And the competency model, of course, is connected to certain phases or stages of leadership in the corporation.” Thus, certain skills and characteristics are connected with specific functional levels at Credit Suisse. Development is tied to the competencies that are expected at each given functional level, explained Cerquone.


Possibly the greatest challenge faced by Credit Suisse is its large, globally dispersed workforce, but in addition to that, Cerquone said another big problem is knowing which employees have which skills and then targeting educational programs according to existing skills and needed skills. Cerquone said Credit Suisse has initiatives designed specifically to assess where the skills lie within the company’s workforce. “For example, in Private Banking we have a program called ‘Skills Refresher’ that looks at a person’s skills portfolio from four different angles.” Ultimately, Cerquone said, the assessment is conducted electronically and reports let the company know where its skills reside.


Des Noctor, vice president of Sales and Service, explained that distribution becomes a problem with regulatory and compliance training, where employees have to go through training multiple times or on a regular basis to be certified to perform their job role. “It’s continuous overhead and a continuous challenge,” he said.


Cerquone said that his personal challenge is getting the individual divisions of the company to cooperate. “How does the private banking division work with Winterthur? Where is there possible synergy? Where is there overlap? Where does it make sense that they work separately? Where does it make sense that certain things are put together?” Cerquone asked. “Management development, as an example, is something that really needs to be done at the corporate level, which means all divisions have to work together, have to agree upon what kinds of skills we need to be teaching in management development.”


According to Noctor, the TopClass e-Learning Suite ultimately helps companies keep closer track of compliance training for record-keeping purposes. “Historically people have dealt with regulatory training in a distributed fashion. You have compliance officers traveling around and getting together and they read the content of the course,” he said. “But when it’s done that way, record-keeping is a real challenge, and in the event of a regulatory breach, they will look for records and the line of defense.” By employing a technology-based solution, that line of defense becomes much clearer and easier to demonstrate to various regulatory agencies. 


Cerquone said that Credit Suisse is already seeing several benefits from the system. “One thing we’ve been able to do—in the process as well as interestingly enough, the look and feel of the tool, is we’ve been able to come up with a corporate image, which for our corporation is not an easy task,” said Cerquone.


Moving forward, Cerquone said Credit Suisse is looking to add additional kinds of functionality to the system like seminar administration and getting rid of its paper-based registration process for its international leadership program.


In addition, Cerquone said Credit Suisse will use assessments to determine where its employees stand on their career paths. Most employees move from junior associate through the professional level to senior or expert level. “Each of these areas or each of these jumps has a particular job description connected with that with skills that are necessary, and of course, with a certain depth of the skills,” explained Cerquone. “What we’re looking at are ways to use these systems to judge, to assess, where a person is. And when a person says I think I’m on the verge now of moving on to the next level, we can set up a testing system to judge that. So we can start verifying skills, and if need be, we can connect a verification with an educational program.”


Emily Hollis is associate editor for Chief Learning Officer Magazine. She can be reached at


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