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The Swiss financial centre

Switzerland is one of the leading global financial centres and in 2016, was again one of the most competitive financial centres in the world. Two Swiss cities, Zurich and Geneva, ranked 11th and 20th in the Global Financial Centres Index 2017. The financial sector consists of the banking sector and the insurance sector.

The financial sector consists of the banking sector and the insurance sector. The financial sector generated CHF 59.8 bn in gross valued added in 2016. This corresponds to a share of 9.4 percent of Switzerland’s total economic output. Around every tenth franc of value added is therefore generated by the financial sector. The financial sector thus makes an important contribution to Switzerland's prosperity. The banks (including banking-related financial services) contributed a large share of value added, more than CHF 30 bn.

The financial sector as an important pillar for the economy

With nominal gross value creation of around CHF 60 billion in 2016, the financial sector remains an important pillar for the Swiss economy, even in a changing and challenging environment. The financial sector contributed around 9.4 percent to the total Swiss gross value creation, a figure which is above average when compared with neighbouring countries and the United Kingdom.

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The financial sector is going through a dynamic adjustment process to keep up with rapid economic and technical developments. The insurance sector generated higher gross value creation growth rates than the banking sector in recent years. In the past year, the banks’ gross value creation amounted to approximately CHF 30.3 billion, a figure which significantly exceeds the corresponding figure in the insurance sector (CHF 29.5 billion).

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The importance of the financial sector cannot be reduced to just its contribution to value creation. The financial sector provides more than 201,000 fulltime equivalent jobs, meaning that around 5.6 percent of all employees in Switzerland (excluding the primary sector) work in this sector. Around two thirds of these jobs are in the banking sector. The financial sector also contributed around CHF 14.5 billion in taxes in 2016, which accounts for at least one tenth of the total income of the Confederation, cantons and municipalities. In addition, companies in the banking and insurance sector also impact the economic development in other sectors (indirect effects) through the purchase of their advance services.

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The related additional value creation in the financial sector amounted to CHF 21.7 billion. In 2016, around 230,000 employees (fulltime equivalents), who paid around CHF 2.6 billion in taxes, benefited from this value creation triggered among suppliers in the financial market. Almost 12 percent of all jobs (fulltime equivalents) in Switzerland and 12.6 percent of Confederation tax income are therefore directly and indirectly linked to the activities in the financial sector.

The major challenges, such as negative interest rates, digitisation and the increase in competitive pressure, were reflected in a decrease in real gross value creation of 3 percent in 2016. The banking sector was disproportionately affected by the changes. The insurance sector, which had recorded continuous aboveaverage growth in recent years compared with the Swiss total, saw its gross value creation stagnate in 2016.

In 2016, the challenging environment once again had a slightly negative effect on the labour market and resulted in a slight drop in employment (1 percent) in both the insurance and banking sectors.