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The Swiss financial centre

Switzerland is one of the leading and most competitive financial centres in the world. Two Swiss cities, Zurich and Geneva, currently rank second and sixth in European comparison*. The financial sector, which consists of the banking sector and the insurance sector, makes a significant contribution to Switzerland’s prosperity.

In 2017, the financial sector reported gross value creation of around CHF 60 billion. This corresponds to a share of 9.2 percent of Switzerland’s total economic output. Around every tenth franc of value added in Switzerland is therefore generated by the financial sector. The banks account for over half of this amount (CHF 31 bn). Due to its strong economic interconnectedness, the financial sector triggered additional value creation in other sectors amounting to around CHF 24 billion.

An important pillar of the economy

The financial sector continues to be an important pillar of the Swiss economy despite a changing and challenging environment. In 2016, gross value creation experienced a decline (-2.4 %), however, in 2017, it rose above the Swiss average. Total gross value creation in Switzerland, adjusted for price developments, rose by 1.7 percent, while the financial sector reported an increase of 1.9 percent.

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The importance of the financial sector is also reflected in its large number of employees. In 2017, the financial sector accounted for around 208,000 full-time jobs. Around 5.4 percent of all employees in Switzerland therefore work in the financial sector, two thirds thereof, or 136,000, are employed at the banks.

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The financial sector also makes a significant contribution to Switzerland’s tax revenues. In 2017, CHF 16.5 billion in taxes were paid to the tax authorities. This corresponds to 11.5 percent of the total tax revenues of the federal government, the cantons and the municipalities. The tax contribution paid by the banks amounted to CHF 12 billion.

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Substantial indirect contribution

Because of their high level of interconnectedness, companies in the banking and insurance sectors also benefit the economic development of other sectors. As a result, they generate indirect value creation, jobs and tax revenues outside of the financial sector. The financial sector’s indirect value creation was CHF 24 billion in 2017, and continues to rise, particularly in the banking sector. This is largely attributable to the adjustment of business models, digitalisation and outsourcing to other sectors. Compared to the previous year, the banking sector’s indirect value creation in 2017 increased by 10.3 percent to CHF 16.7 billion. 

The financial centre had an indirect employment effect of over 250,000 full-time jobs (banks: over 170,000) in 2017. Directly and indirectly, 12 percent of all jobs in Switzerland are therefore linked to the financial sector.

In addition to the CHF 16.5 billion in direct tax revenues, the financial sector also generated indirect tax revenues of around CHF 2.8 billion. Directly and indirectly, the financial sector accounts for 13.5 percent of the government’s tax revenues.

Outlook solid

Digitalisation leads to new products and services as well as adjustments to processes. As a result, the trend of relocating jobs to other sectors will in particular continue in the banking sector. The most important effects thereof are an ongoing increase in the outsourcing of services and growing demand for advance services in other sectors. This results not only in the relocation of a segment of value creation, but also in a shift of certain jobs to companies that are not statistically recorded as banks.

Negative interest rates, intense competition and digitalisation are having a dampening effect on margins. Pressure to increase productivity in the financial sector will therefore continue. In the next 12 months, an increase in real gross value creation is expected in both the banking sector (3 %), as well as the insurance sector (2.5 %). In the medium term, direct value creation growth is likely to be around 2 percent per year in the banking sector.