Medie conference Bankersday 2013

The media conference before the Swiss Bankers Day focused on a self-critical reflection. Patrick Odier, Chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association, emphasised that the industry had to improve the way it lives up to its responsibilities to all stakeholders. Banks should use lessons from the past to go forward. The economic environment in Switzerland last year was challenging. Performance nevertheless remained robust. The sector is strategically well placed for the future. One element of this is a clear commitment to helping to shape international standards in future, and complying with them. The SBA also clearly rejects an excessive Swiss finish to regulation.

"We bear the sole responsibility in the coming years for acting in such a way that we live up to our responsibility to clients, staff, the economy, society and the next generation of bankers," said Patrick Odier, Chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA), at the annual media conference before the Swiss Bankers Day in Zurich. He noted that banks had adapted their strategy to the new operating environment: "Our strategy can be summed up in the words tax compliance, international standards, growth through open markets and fair competition."

Patrick Odier expressed optimism for the future, based on the good economic starting point the banks enjoy, and the fact that developing and expanding new business areas such as asset management, trade financing and renminbi services will allow the financial centre to grow over the long term.

Yes to international standards, no to a Swiss finish

"A clear commitment to meeting international standards also implies an equally clear rejection of purely national solutions, as is currently envisaged in connection with tax-compliant foreign assets," said Patrick Odier in his speech, calling for the clean money strategy to be dropped.

Access to the EU market essential for growth

Claude-Alain Margelisch, CEO of the SBA, spelled out the importance of market access for banks' future in his speech. He drew attention to the proposed European MiFID II directive, which threatens even greater discrimination against third countries, and hence banks in Switzerland, when it comes to access to the key EU market. "We must try to find a satisfactory solution to the implementation of MiFID II, even if it requires a services agreement with the EU in the mid-term," insisted Margelisch. It is vital, he noted in this regard, to find a solution concerning institutional issues.

Call for sensible and measured investor protection

The CEO of the SBA furthermore emphasized that the proposed Financial Services Act in Switzerland is a sensible measure. Margelisch called on the banks to take responsibility for investor protection. "The best way to protect investors is with suitable information and transparency - not rigid bans," he stated. He also warned against excessive enthusiasm for legislation and clearly rejected a Swiss finish to investor protection.

Challenging Environment

The latest figures on the financial centre in the annual Bank Barometer show satisfactory results:

  • Assets under management were up again: at the end of 2012, banks in Switzerland managed CHF 5,565 billion of assets, a rise of CHF 320 billion on the previous year. The proportion of foreign assets remains unchanged at just over 50 percent of the total managed assets. This means that there was again no noticeable shift of foreign client money to other countries.
  • Aggregate profits of banks in Switzerland stagnated again in 2012. The decline in trading income was not quite compensated by better net interest income and other income. Service and commission income make up 40 percent of profits for banks in Switzerland - still the largest component.
  • Business continues to enjoy unfettered access to credit: credit limits granted rose in 2012 by 4.7 percent to CHF 1,105 billion; drawings were up 5.7 percent too. Limits were only 86.2 percent utilised. Domestic mortgage receivables rose 5.8 percent and at 83.7 percent remain the largest element of domestic credit demand.
  • Following a slight 0.14 percent rise the previous year, banks in Switzerland reduced headcount marginally in 2012. The number of domestic employees fell 2.7 percent to 105,166.

Swiss Bankers Day

Swiss Bankers Day is the General Assembly of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) and marks a highlight in the Swiss banking year. This year it is taking place today in Berne. After a welcoming speech by Patrick Odier, Chairman of the SBA, Federal Councillor Alain Berset, Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, will convey greetings from the Federal Council. The focus of Swiss Bankers Day in Berne will be on an exchange of views between the worlds of banking, politics and industry, with ambassadors lending the event an international touch. Some 350 invited guests are expected.

Media Information

The 2013 Banking Barometer study mentioned in the text and the speech by Claude-Alain Margelisch will be available from 9.00 a.m. onwards at The Chairman's speech by Patrick Odier will be available once the General Assembly has started at 5:30 p.m. at