Swiss banks make a significant contribution to value creation in Switzerland and provide jobs for highly skilled workers. If they are to continue doing so, the conditions under which they operate have to allow them to remain competitive internationally. Access for Swiss financial service providers to foreign markets is of strategic importance in this regard. Market access means that Swiss banks can export their services out of Switzerland.
Switzerland will not be able to safeguard and improve market access by acting alone: it must arrive at a political understanding with the various partner states. A range of approaches should be pursued simultaneously to this end, since some goals can be attainable quite quickly, whereas others will require more time.
There are three types of market access:
- Onshore presence: A Swiss bank serves its foreign customers through a subsidiary and/or branch in their home country.
- Active cross-border: Staff based in Switzerland serve existing foreign customers and actively acquire new ones.
- Passive cross-border: Existing foreign customers receive standard services, while new foreign customers are acquired only when the latter approach the banks themselves.
Why is market access important?
- Private banking: More than half of the assets managed in Switzerland originate from foreign clients, with Europeans estimated to account for more than 40% of these assets.
- Asset management: Swiss banks can manage foreign-based collective investment schemes, provide institutional asset management for foreign-based pension funds, and sell Swiss financial products abroad.
- Corporate banking: Market access makes currency transactions as well as bond and equity issuance abroad easier for Swiss banks.
Objective: gain non-discriminatory access to foreign markets
Switzerland is striving to secure non-discriminatory access to EU / European Economic Area (EEA) markets as well as to growth regions in order to preserve its ability to export Swiss financial services and foster future growth.
What does the banking sector need?
In contrast to goods-exporting industries, restrictions on market access are increasingly hampering export-oriented Swiss banks’ efforts to meet legitimate customer needs and keep value creation, jobs and tax income in Switzerland. Unlike Switzerland, key target markets have in recent years adopted protectionist measures which severely restrict cross-border financial transactions. Customers’ needs have also changed significantly. In the past, the focus was on secure custody of assets in a reliable jurisdiction, and the confidentiality that went with it. Today, customers are increasingly looking for active service provision geared to performance. Both personal contact with client advisors and interaction through new means of communication are important aspects of this. Many studies show that international wealth management remains a growth business. Without regulated market access, Swiss banks are at a significant competitive disadvantage compared with their rivals in the EU. Market access is just as essential for the finance industry as it is for the watch, engineering or wine industries. It is therefore not merely “nice to have” but rather a clear necessity if Switzerland and its financial industry are to grasp the opportunities that lie ahead.
Free trade agreements and the Swiss financial centre
The SBA is committed to open markets because trade creates prosperity both in Switzerland and abroad. It therefore also supports the conclusion of free trade agreements, which are a key instrument of Swiss foreign trade policy.
Free trade agreements are important to the Swiss financial centre for the following reasons:
- They enhance the competitiveness of the Swiss economy.
- They open up new growth opportunities for our companies’ exports.
- Closer business ties create the potential for new agreements on financial services.
Free trade agreements make Switzerland more competitive and prosperous over the long term, benefiting the country’s people and economy as well as its financial centre.