Banking Barometer 2016: Swiss banks stable, but face significant challenges
Challenges and opportunities
The banks in Switzerland faced numerous challenges in 2015. On the one hand, the continued low interest rate environment and strong competition led to significant pressure on margins. Regulations relating to capital requirements and tax transparency are driving up costs. Further to this, digitalisation had a strong influence on the general banking climate and accelerated structural change in the sector. It is still unclear how conditions will change for the Swiss banks as a result of the UK's decision to leave the EU (Brexit). The fact that most banks are reporting attractive earnings despite this difficult environment speaks to the ability of the Swiss banks to withstand crises as well as to their adaptability. In fact, the financial centre further strengthened its leading international position. For example, in the autumn of 2015, China Construction Bank became the first Chinese bank to receive a Swiss bank licence and opened its first branch in Zurich in January 2016. The SBA, together with other stakeholders, has been working towards establishing a renminbi hub since 2012. This holds significant long-term potential for the Swiss financial centre.
Martin Hess, Chief Economist at the SBA, explains: “Securing EU market access remains essential for further growth. In terms of employment, we are seeing a trend towards building up staff levels abroad; an indicator that the exportability of the financial centre is an issue. This trend must now be reversed through improved framework conditions. We must in particular succeed in finding a way to ensure cost-efficient regulation. The SBA has already developed recommendations for the government and regulatory authorities to this end. In particular, these include an independent regulatory inspection authority and a price tag for regulation.”
The SBA’s annual Banking Barometer provides an overview of the key figures and developments in the Swiss banking centre. The study is based on data from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) as well as the results of surveys conducted with member institutions. The study will be presented to the public today at 9.30 a.m. in Zurich. This press release, the Banking Barometer 2016 and the presentation from Martin Hess can be found on our homepage www.swissbanking.org.
Re-launch of www.swissbanking.org
Today, the SBA also re-launched its website www.swissbanking.org. In addition to the customary content, we have prepared facts and figures relating to the banking and financial sector (including information from the current Banking Barometer) in an attractive and exportable format. Guidelines, statements and information regarding training, the financial sector and current issues can now be found even more easily and quickly. The new website maintains its adaptive design to ensure that you always find the same content, regardless of whether you access www.swissbanking.org from your PC, tablet, or smartphone. Our online magazine insight is now also available in a new, reader-friendly layout. The next edition of insight will be published on 21 September.