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Defending the competitiveness of the financial centre – expanding market access – improving the regulatory process – promoting innovation

Basel, 2015/09/17 00:00:00 GMT+2 Banks are fulfilling their obligations to private customers, companies, and the entire Swiss economy. The environment that the banks are operating in, however, is highly challenging. In order for the Swiss financial centre to remain competitive, banks, politicians and the authorities must work together to achieve the best possible framework conditions and in particular, to swiftly implement the recommendations of the Brunetti group of experts.

Current data on the financial centre reflects its strong performance:

  • The banking sector in Switzerland provides well-paid jobs to 165,000 individuals in Switzerland. This is almost as many people as live in the city of Basel.
  • The banks train over 3,600 commercial apprentices. This represents 8.4 percent of all commercial apprenticeship positions – almost no other sector in Switzerland matches this.
  • 6 percent of value creation, or around CHF 35 billion, is generated by the banks.
  • 8 percent of taxes paid in Switzerland, totalling around CHF 11 billion, originate from the banks.

Patrick Odier, Chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) on the importance of the banks: “In recent years, the importance of the financial centre has often been forgotten – it is to the Swiss economy what oxygen is to the human body – necessary for existence.” To a great extent, the banks can preserve and further develop their competitiveness, variety and performance themselves by playing on their strengths and always remaining innovative. The banking sector expects the government and the authorities to provide urgently needed support in the creation of the best possible legal, fiscal and regulatory framework conditions so that it can continue to contribute to the prosperity of Switzerland in future.

International standards: not more, not less

The banks in Switzerland continue to be among the soundest in the world; a timely, rigorous implementation of the too-big-to-fail regulation also contributed to this fact. By accepting and properly implementing international standards such as the automatic exchange of information (AEOI), the banks are contributing to legal certainty. However, the banks are demanding that other financial centres also adhere to international standards in tax matters. An important criteria for the AEOI with another country must be that other financial centres have also reached AEOI agreements with this country. Other criteria that should be met are fair solutions for the regularisation of the past, and possibilities for improving market access. Further to this, the banks demand that all additional due diligence obligations (“Weissgeldstrategie”) that exceed international standards and which are not understood by other countries or clients, be waived.

Market access must be improved

The group of experts for the further development of the financial market strategy, or Brunetti Group for short, formulated important recommendations for the improvement of competitiveness. These must now be put into practice both swiftly and boldly. In particular, access to the European market must now in a first, urgent step, be improved through bilateral negotiations with key countries. There is no way to avoid a (financial) services agreement at the overall EU level in the longer-term. At the same time, Switzerland must commit to achieving improvements through the recognition of equivalence for technical dossiers and differentiation at the domestic level. Patrick Odier emphasises: “If the issues with the European Union are not resolved, there is a risk that a substantial share of value creation and jobs will be relocated to countries abroad. The solutions to these issues will be one of the most important factors for the success of the financial centre in the coming years.” Of key importance for the SBA are the implementation of the mass immigration initiative while at the same time safeguarding bilateral agreements, and the resolution of institutional issues.

Appropriate and efficient regulatory processes

A further important point is the establishment of an appropriate and efficient regulatory process. Regulation should be in place only where required, and should have a reasonable cost-benefit ratio. This should be reviewed periodically. Regulation must be at the appropriate level, transparent and effective, and created in dialogue with those affected; where expedient, self-regulation should be favoured. A defined body of normative instruments, which should be established early on, would create transparency for the parties subject to regulation. An independent inspection authority for financial market regulation that ensures adherence to the regulatory principles should also be established.

The financial centre remains innovative

The banks themselves continuously endeavour to uphold their competitiveness. A number of measures, such as strengthening asset management, establishing a renminbi hub and promoting ideal framework conditions for a digital ecosystem, have seen significant progress in the last year. Patrick Odier emphasises: “Competitiveness does not just rest on attractive framework conditions, but also on the ongoing development of new professions. We are continually working on the growth drivers of tomorrow.

New members of the Board of Directors

Three new Board Members will be put forward for election at this year’s Annual General Meeting: Dr Patrik Gisel, CEO Raiffeisen Switzerland as of 1 October 2015, Yves Mirabaud, Senior Partner of Mirabaud SCA and Chairman of the Board of Mirabaud & Cie SA, and Jacques de Saussure, Senior Partner of Pictet & Cie Group SCA and Chairman of the Board, Banque Pictet & Cie SA.

#vote4finance

In a situation where support from the highest political instance is absolutely necessary, an election year represents a particular challenge, but also an important opportunity. With the #vote4finance campaign, the SBA shines a spotlight on those candidates for the 2015 parliamentary elections who support the banks and their objectives. Further information can be found at www.swissbanking.org/vote4finance.

 

Swiss Bankers Day

The Bankers Day is the annual general meeting of the SBA and is one of the highlights of the Swiss banking year. This year’s Bankers Day will be held today in Zurich. After a welcome speech by Patrick Odier, Chairman of the SBA, Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), will deliver a speech in the name of the Federal Council. One of the key topics at Bankers Day 2015 will be fintech. A panel discussion on this subject will be broadcast live at 5.55 p.m. at www.periscope.tv. 2015 graduates of the banking apprenticeship who achieved the best business grades will also be recognised at Bankers Day.

The focus of Bankers Day in Zurich is the exchange between figures from the worlds of banking, politics and industry. Ambassadors, who give the event an international dimension, are also invited. Approximately 450 guests are expected to attend.

 

Swiss Banking@Niuws

Niuws is an app that provides a selection of news about political, regulatory and business-related events in the financial centre compiled by a dedicated team. Niuws can be downloaded free of charge from the iTunes-Store and Google Play-Store and is also available at www.niu.ws/swissbanking.