Vikram Gandhi departs Credit Suisse

After six years as global head of FIG at Credit Suisse, the not-for-profit sector convinces Vikram Gandhi to hang up his investment banking shoes.

Vikram Gandhi, vice-chairman of the investment banking department and co-global head of the financial institutions group (FIG) at Credit Suisse, has resigned to devote himself to philanthropy.

Gandhi joined Credit Suisse in New York in 2005 as head of FIG to build the industry group franchise. In the summer of 2008 he relocated to Hong Kong in the same role, with a mandate to expand the FIG franchise in Asia and Europe, while continuing to oversee key client relationships in the Americas.

In April 2010 Ewen Stevenson was promoted to co-global head of FIG, based in London. Stevenson is a veteran Credit Suisse banker who has held a variety of roles related to coverage of the financial services sector since he joined in 1989. Some observers suggested that Stevenson’s appointment last year was a precursor to Gandhi stepping down from his position.

Gandhi was earlier co-head of FIG at Morgan Stanley between 2003 and 2005. And from 1997 to 1999 he served as president of Morgan Stanley India and vice-chairman of the US investment bank’s Indian joint venture, JM Morgan Stanley. JM Morgan Stanley was dissolved in 2007 and Morgan Stanley soon thereafter set up a wholly owned Indian operation.

Gandhi will now devote all his energies to philanthropy, particularly in Asia and specifically India. This includes spending more time on the Giving Back Foundation, which he co-founded with his wife Meera, who is the CEO, in 2010. The foundation aims to alleviate poverty, illness, and suffering, as well as help educate young children around the world. Gandhi will continue to be based in Hong Kong for the near future, although he envisages spending more time in India. He is expected to fully relinquish his responsibilities at Credit Suisse by April this year.

“Credit Suisse has been a great firm for me professionally,” said Gandhi in an exclusive interview with FinanceAsia. “Since this is still quite early in my transition, it is premature to be talking about support [from Credit Suisse] for my foundation.”

When asked what has prompted him to make this move now, Gandhi said he has always been interested in non-government organisations. Among other things, he is involved with the Grameen Foundation, where he has been a board member for the past five years. He now intends to spend more time “looking at key issues facing India and Asia and hopes to tap [his] experience with [Credit Suisse] as well as 22 years in global investment banking, and channel it into new areas of personal growth”.

Some in the banking industry have commented that Gandhi’s departure puts a spotlight on the amorphous nature of the role of a global co-head of an industry group in investment banking. Each country has a team of relationship bankers covering the financial institutions within their geography. These will report to a regional head who will then report to a global head. The global head has to bring strong personal relationships to the table to be able to carve out an independent role.

Credit Suisse had no comment on Gandhi's departure.

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