The Swiss financial center is one of the most competitive in the world. About one fourth of all global cross-border assets is held by Swiss banks, making Switzerland the leader in this field. With around 90,000 people working in the banking sector, it is a key element of the country’s economy. Switzerland’s high level of banking secrecy has often been subject of controversy.
Types of banks
There are more than 250 different financial institutions present in Switzerland. Many large banks offer a wide range of financial services such as savings accounts, loans, investment, etc. Other competitors have specialized in certain areas or customer groups. In order to open an account, most banks require a personal presence but there are alternatives like Crédit Agricole that let you open the account before your arrival in Switzerland.
PostFinance is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss Post and the fifth largest retail financial institution in Switzerland. Their main field of activity is in national and international transfers but they also provide products and services for saving, investing, provisioning and financing.
Raiffeisen Switzerland is a union consisting of 229 banks, making it the third largest Swiss banking group. With 861 branches, they have the densest branch network in the country.
Cantonal banks are 24 government-owned commercial banks. In contrast to the Raiffeisen group, they are locally focused and primarily serve the corresponding canton. The Zurich Cantonal Bank holds CHF 170 billion in total assets, making it the largest cantonal bank and the fourth largest bank in Switzerland.
Most private banks are specialized in asset management and personal financial planning. They serve affluent clients and often require a net worth of over CHF 250,000 to open an account. The largest private bank in Switzerland is Julius Bär.