The Swiss banking system is just like many other industries in Switzerland closely linked to international markets. Today, around 51% of the capital managed by the Swiss banks derives from abroad. The international profile is therefore particularly important for the banking industry in Switzerland.
The Swiss financial markets meet all international quality and safety standards. In addition, high competence, solidity and protection of privacy are the key success factors and the cause of the great financial success in the “Alpine country”.
In Switzerland, there are currently more than 169,000 employed in the financial sector. According to public valuations, the services of the financial sector contribute with 15% of all incomes from the state, cantons and municipalities.
A common characteristic of the banking sector in Switzerland is the banking confidentiality, which was introduced in 1934. Banking confidentiality has similar features as the confidentiality known among doctors and lawyers. In Switzerland you seek to protect the privacy as it constitutes an important part of the Swiss legal system. It is therefore found in the Swiss constitution as well. Banking confidentiality as we know it from the beginning is however under revision. The same requirements apply to the banks regarding the registration of their clients’ backgrounds and the way in which their capital is provided. In other words, only taxed money can be invested legally in Switzerland!
In Switzerland, there are more than 300 different banks and the sector is based on the principle of universal banking. Despite the fact that banks can offer all banking services, alliances or groups have developed in specific areas.
Banks in Switzerland (the major banks)
The two biggest banks are: Credit Suisse and UBS. Together, they comprise approximately 48% of the Swiss market. UBS has for many years been a world leader in asset management as well as private banking. Similarly, is Credit Suisse with the headquarter in Zurich seen as having a leading position within management of capital markets and with an extensive offering of products in Universal Banking.
In Switzerland, there are 24 different cantonal banks. Previously, these banks had social and commercial obligations. Today, the cantonal banks have become modern independent banks with their own profiles. 95% of the cantonal banks’ customers are Swiss citizens.
This bank group is characterised as a bank based on a co-operative ownership. The bank has existed for more than 100 years. Raiffeisen Group is considered as the leading Swiss bank in the retail segment.
There are many foreign banks in Switzerland. It is estimated that 50% of all foreign banks are from the EU. Their primary services are asset and wealth management for wealthy customers.
Control of banks
The control, or the regulation and supervision, of the many banks is happening through the FINMA (“Finansmarktaufsicht”) which is comparable to the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority. Try to follow this link if you want to read more about FINMA.
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