Switzerland – UK: two leading financial centres want to join forces
The “Joint Statement between the Federal Department of Finance and Her Majesty’s Treasury on deepening cooperation in financial services” signed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer underscores the willingness of both countries to liberalise and expand mutual market access for financial services. This also includes banking services. Concrete negotiations are now to be initiated swiftly, with the aim of setting out the essential elements in an international treaty within a reasonable period of time.
The SBA expressly welcomes this important step towards open markets, which are key for Switzerland’s highly export-oriented banking sector. A joint industry position paper published by economiesuisse and TheCityUK on 28 April 2020, to which the SBA contributed, outlines the corresponding concerns. It is pleasing to see that these have been incorporated into the political declarations that were signed.
Deepening future relations between the UK and Switzerland in the financial services sector
The joint statement between Switzerland and the UK lays the foundation for mutual market access to be extended beyond the current level. This comes after the Federal Council’s “mind the gap” strategy, which secures the status quo. In concrete terms, the liberalisation and expansion of market access for Swiss banks allows them to better serve interested client segments in the UK with banking and securities services and provide such services according to their needs.
The “wholesale & sophisticated clients” addressed in the signed document are important client segments for Swiss banks. The principle agreed with regards to the mutual opening of markets on the basis of mutual recognition of the relevant financial market regulations and supervisory frameworks is an expedient approach.
The joint statement sets ambitious goals and their implementation will be challenging. The SBA welcomes the fact that the related technical efforts are to be expedited, with the aim of being able to conduct an initial stock-taking towards the end of the year and to conclude a treaty in the foreseeable future.