Investment and finance experts in Switzerland are rediscovering a market that they’ve always had right in front of them.
When the global financial crisis had its breakout moment in 2008, the lucrative Swiss banking industry was forced to confront not only its operations but also its branding. After decades of catering to the ultra-rich and the secretively wealthy, Swiss bankers realized that they had neglected their promising domestic market.
Major global banks such as Credit Suisse are mostly known for their investment banking imprints on Wall Street and other major financial markets. These are respected Swiss brands, but many of their own citizens only knew them by name.
The Shift Towards the Switzerland Market
The 2008 collapse of Wall Street brought about major changes to the world of finance. In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service went after American citizens who allegedly kept money safely hidden in Swiss bank accounts.
Some banks in the Swiss Confederation were accused of conspiring to offer banking services to dubious individuals who may have had nefarious reasons for keeping money in offshore accounts.
Many Americans were forced to close their offshore accounts, but quite a few Swiss bankers went a step further and began dumping U.S. clients because they were no longer worth the hassle. Aside from scrutiny by the U.S. Treasury, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act made Swiss bankers uncomfortable and leery of taking on American clients.
Plenty of Wealthy Swiss Clients to Service
Swiss bankers take pride in knowing how to attract and retain wealthy clients. After decades of strong growth overseas, the change of economic climate prompted Swiss bankers to consider the opportunities in their own country, which happens to have one of the wealthiest populations in the world.
Some of the new marketing strategies being applied by Swiss bankers for the purpose of gaining new clients include pricing and customer service. The former is very important; after all, these banks are now competing against each other in a smaller market.
Although the reintegration of banks in Switzerland is being welcomed by the finance sector, some concerns remain. Some Swiss private banks have not been able to shed to completely do away with their foreign operations, and this means that they can still run into issues such as money laundering. In other words, a few Swiss banks still have to do damage control and reputation management before they can tap into their domestic market.
Another issue is that some Swiss banks such as UBS and Corner Banca are now being called upon by the U.S. Ambassador to once again offer their services to American clients. There are about 20,000 American expats living in the Swiss Confederation, and they are having a hard time trying to open something as simple as a deposit account with a debit card.