Switzerland is world famous for its banks and thriving economy with a GDP higher than most Western European countries. The price of the Swiss franc (CHF) was also quite stable compared to other currencies. In 2009, the Swiss financial sector contributed around 11.6% to total gross domestic product and employed almost 195,000 people (136,000 of whom were specifically in the banking sector), which corresponds to almost 6% of the entire Swiss workforce. In addition, Swiss banks employ around 103,000 people abroad.
Today, around thirty-three percent of all global funds are held outside the country of origin (also known as offshore assets) that are held with Swiss banks and financial institutions. In 2001 Swiss banks managed assets totaling 2.6 trillion US dollars.
Data protection declaration of the Swiss banks
The Banking Act of 1934 has become a criminal offense for a Swiss bank to disclose information about an account holder. The Swiss bank discretion policy guarantees bank client confidentiality. The anonymity guaranteed by Swiss legislation is similar in nature to the level of confidentiality protection between doctors and patients or lawyers and their clients.
The Swiss authorities recognize the right to secrecy as a basic principle that must be guaranteed by every democratic state. While confidentiality is maintained, all bank accounts are linked to an identified individual, also known as the final beneficiary. It should also be noted that the principle of banking secrecy is not absolute per se either: a prosecutor or a judge is entitled to issue an ordinance granting the right to legally access bank data necessary to conduct an investigation .
However, everything changed on May 27, 2015 when the Swiss authorities signed an agreement with EU officials. The latter agreement brought the banking practices of Swiss banks and financial institutions into line with common European requirements and standards, ending the data protection directive that Swiss bank customers in the EU have recently enjoyed. In accordance with the provisions of the agreement, both parties, Switzerland and the member states of the European Union, will automatically exchange information about their residents' bank accounts from 2018.
Asset management industry in Switzerland
Asset management is a rapidly developing business in Switzerland. In order for the Swiss financial center to actually prosper and benefit from this development, several local banking and finance associations have developed the Switzerland Asset Management Platform. This platform fulfills the tasks of the Asset Management Initiative that was launched in 2012. The primary goal of the platform is to make Switzerland an attractive, global destination for asset management.
Asset management in Switzerland is to be developed into one of the leading forces in the Swiss financial center. The wealth management industry will be known worldwide for a high level of trust and quality. The platform mentioned above is to be used to expand asset management in Switzerland as a strategic industry. This is intended to diversify the Swiss financial center, as existing business guidelines are reintroduced and declining industries are compensated. Asset management is also becoming a fully fledged pillar of the financial center and the Swiss economy for private customer business and customer-oriented investment banking.
At the beginning of 2008 there were 327 registered and licensed banks and securities dealers in Switzerland. The companies on this list span a wide range and include the two big banks as well as numerous smaller banks. Click here to view our Swiss banking catalog.