FinanceAsia has named Credit Suisse’s Helman Sitohang as winner of its Outstanding Achievement Award for 2015, honouring his excellent stewardship and deal-making skills.
In the face of intense competition, the judges said Sitohang stood out for his leadership as Switzerland’s second-largest bank restructured its operations in the region, helping it through a period of intense market volatility from China to Southeast Asia.
He received his award at FinanceAsia’s annual awards dinner at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong before more than 260 leading players from the world of Asia-Pacific banking.
"I'm honored to receive this award, which is as much a testament to our clients as it is to the team that we have built at Credit Suisse," Sitohang said, after receiving his award from FinanceAsia editor Alison Tudor-Ackroyd. "This award is a reflection of the growing importance of Asia Pacific in the global banking industry, as well as the increasing sophistication of the capital markets in the region."
"For Credit Suisse, Asia Pacific has increasingly become a focus," he added. "Last year we formed our new Asia Pacific division, demonstrating the increasing significance of this region to our franchise globally and also underscoring [the] commitment we are making to the region."
Tudor-Ackroyd said FinanceAsia wanted this year to recognise a banker who had made his name in the region.
"He kept operations running through the depths of the Asian financial crisis and as a result he is the trusted adviser to some of Southeast Asia's most powerful businessmen," she said.
Long regarded as the best-connected banker in his native Indonesia, Sitohang was named Credit Suisse’s chief executive for the Asia-Pacific region in October 2014, in addition to his role as head of the company’s investment bank in the region.
He took a further step up a year later when he joined the company’s global executive board. That appointment came as Credit Suisse announced a strategic review with the ambition of doubling its CHF133 billion ($139.2 billion) of assets under management in the region by 2018.
During his career with Credit Suisse, Sitohang has been involved in around $150 billion of mergers and acquisitions and capital raisings across the globe. Based in Singapore, he led the origination of many of the bank’s high-profile transactions across Asia and Australia.
Sitohang’s background is far from typical for an Asian banker. He was born in Prague where his Indonesian father met a Slovakian fellow student, Sitohang’s mother, and studied economics on a Soviet-sponsored scholarship in what was then communist Czechoslovakia. The family was later to return to Indonesia, where Sitohang studied at the prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology.
After starting his working life as an oilfield engineer, Sitohang turned to banking. He went on to join Credit Suisse in Indonesia in 1998, when the Asian financial crisis was at its peak and in a time of political turmoil in Jakarta.
He helped Credit Suisse stay the course in Indonesia and become a dominant player. After more than a decade as country head, he went on to become Credit Suisse’s chief executive officer in Southeast Asia in 2010.