The Swiss financial sector: an economic driver in uncertain times

In a recent study, BAK Economics looks at the economic importance of the Swiss financial sector. There is one key finding: due in particular to the high proportion of highly qualified employees, the financial centre generates 9.4% (CHF 66.7 billion) of the gross value added of the Swiss economy as a whole with 5.5% (230,600) of employees. If the additional indirect effects along the value chain are included in the assessment, the financial sector can be said to generate a total of CHF 92.6 billion in value added. 

One in eight francs of value added is generated directly in the financial sector

The financial sector is proving its worth: in 2021, the 230,600 employees (full-time equivalents) of banks and insurance companies generated a gross value added of CHF 66.7 billion. The financial sector also provides decisive impetus for other industries through intermediate demand (e.g. for IT or consulting services) and consumer spending by employees. These indirect effects generated a total gross value added of CHF 92.6 billion along the value chains of banks and insurance companies in 2021. This means that 422,100 full-time jobs were associated with the industry. Consequently, every 100 jobs in the financial sector are linked to 83 additional jobs in other Swiss industries. In other words, more than one in eight francs of value added and one in ten jobs is attributable to financial sector activity. This makes the financial sector one of the most productive sectors of the Swiss economy. Looking only at the banks, their value added of CHF 30.9 billion in 2021 is roughly on a par with the pharmaceutical industry.

The financial centre has proven itself as a supporting pillar of the Swiss economy in times of crisis

The outlook for the financial sector is moderately positive, although numerous uncertainties remain. Despite high inflation rates, a looming recession and geopolitical risks, BAK Economics expects the financial sector to experience a positive growth rate in gross value added, as well as in headcount.  Even though the stock market slump is causing assets under management and the associated commission income to shrink, interest rate rises are having a positive effect on the interest differential business of banks. Overall, BAK Economics anticipates a slight increase in value added for banks (2022: 0.5%, 2023: 0.8%). This will enable the financial sector to provide positive impetus as a job and growth driver for the economy as a whole, especially as the economy slows down.

Above-average workplace productivity in the financial sector

In its latest study, BAK Economics focuses on the level of education in the financial sector. It becomes clear that the employees of banks, insurance companies and other financial service providers have a significantly higher level of education than in the economy in general due to the higher qualification requirements of companies. In the financial sector, 63% of employees have a university degree. In the other sectors of the Swiss economy, this proportion falls to 42%. Well-trained, available skilled workers are essential for the success of a company or an industry. The study by BAK Economics also underlines that companies in the financial sector are better at recruiting highly qualified workers than the service sector and industry overall.

Banks and insurance companies as significant taxpayers

Compared to other industries, the financial sector contributes disproportionately to tax revenue in Switzerland. In 2021, taxes levied by the Confederation, cantons and municipalities that were directly or indirectly related to the financial sector increased by a good 15% compared to the previous year, totalling an estimated CHF 19.9 billion. This corresponded to over 13% of total fiscal revenues from the public sector. About CHF 12 billion of this was attributable to taxes from corporate profits and labour income. The Confederation also collected around CHF 7.9 billion in the form of taxes on transactions from the financial sector (e.g. stamp duty and withholding taxes).

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