The online magazine of the Swiss Bankers Association
June 21, 2017


Promotion of the financial centre in Asia

Promotion of the financial centre in Asia

In April 2017, a delegation of financial centre representatives travelled together with the government to key financial centres in Asia. The objective was to present the advantages of Switzerland as a location for finance at each destination.

The destinations visited by Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer and a high-level delegation from the financial centre on their trip to Asia. (Source: FDF)
Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong – these were the stops made during the one-week trip taken by Ueli Maurer, Head of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF). In addition to representatives from the government and the authorities, he was accompanied to Asia by high-level exponents of the Swiss financial centre. In total, the delegation of around 20 people concluded 37 meetings with finance ministries and regulators, industry representatives, embassies and local banking associations.

Swiss banks in China, Chinese banks in Switzerland

Discussions at the meetings in Beijing and Shanghai centred primarily around questions relating to market access. The Swiss banks, which have been present in China for a number of years now, advocated for the security of investments and a further opening of the Chinese market. They received encouraging signs on both fronts. Conversely, the delegation also highlighted the importance of continuing to push ahead with the establishment of further Chinese banks in Switzerland. “Several Chinese banks expressed an interest in establishing a presence in Switzerland in future. The Swiss renminbi hub would benefit significantly from a greater variety of Chines institutions in Switzerland,” said Claude-Alain Margelisch, CEO of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA), who was also a member of the financial centre delegation.

Meeting with the Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie.

China continues to be very interested in Switzerland’s broad expertise in wealth management, and the meetings resulted in a commitment to further intensify existing collaboration in this area.

Collaboration with Singapore and Hong Kong

As global financial centres, Singapore and Hong Kong, on the other hand, have similar interests as Switzerland when it comes to the development of international standards such as Basel III/IV and the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI). With regard to the latter, both jurisdictions provided information about how they are configuring their AEOI networks: the number of AEOI agreements are expected to be similar to the number that Switzerland is currently striving to reach. Other areas identified for a greater exchange include matters relating to global standards, financial education and fintech/digitalisation.

Government and industry united in the interests of the financial centre

Visits to the four destinations scheduled on the trip are not a new phenomenon for the SBA. Claude-Alain Margelisch explains: “We have been fostering relations with China, Singapore and Hong Kong on an ongoing basis for over ten years, which is why we were able to build seamlessly on good relationships during this trip. The only way for us to be successful is through long-term collaborations.”

Herbert J. Scheidt, Chairman of the SBA, at a business event in Beijing.

This trip does, however, mark the first time that the finance industry has travelled to Asia together with Swiss officials. Herbert J. Scheidt, Chairman of the SBA and a representative of the financial centre on the trip to Asia, spoke to Finews about the importance thereof prior to his departure: “The fact that a delegation from the financial centre is accompanying the Federal Councillor on this kind of a trip sends a strong signal. The trip represents a milestone in the efforts of the Swiss Bankers Association and the Confederation to better position our financial centre abroad.” In a region where the government and business are so closely linked, it is a major advantage for the promotion of the Swiss financial centre if banks, insurance companies and their infrastructure service providers can demonstrate that they enjoy the support of the government and regulators. In addition to business meetings, events such as panel discussions, meetings with media and networking opportunities were arranged in all of the locations in order to allow for a broad exchange between the delegation and exponents of the local financial centres.

Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer and the delegation at a meeting with Carlson Tong, Chair of the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (the equivalent of Switzerland’s FINMA).

Claude-Alain Margelisch is confident in terms of the next steps: “Before the end of the year, we will organise further events, in particular with our Chinese partners. One example is the fourth Chinese-Swiss Financial Round Table, which we host on a rotational basis and this time will be held in China. This will ensure that the existing, healthy dialogue can be carried forward.” The greater promotion of the financial centre abroad will be further pursued following this first trip with government representatives. The FDF expressed this intent in its review of the trip to Asia: “In the medium term, such trips and similar ones will play a key role as a financial market policy tool for Switzerland.” Plans to visit further destinations with joint delegations are currently underway. The Asia trip was an important pilot project that achieved all of the objectives that had been set.