Swiss Financial Center

A global leader in international financial services, Switzerland is home to banks, asset managers, insurance companies, Fintech and Blockchain companies, and consulting firms offering comprehensive services and innovative solutions for clients around the world.

Benefitting from a stable political and legal framework, its own strong currency and a location at the heart of Europe, Switzerland is politically independent yet globally networked.

Covid-19

The Federal Council has approved a comprehensive package of measures worth over CHF 70 billion to cushion the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The measures aim to reduce the number of redundancies, sustain employment, safeguard wages, and provide financial assistance for the self-employed. The support was designed to be rapidly rolled out, well-targeted, and easily reversed when recovery begins.

Covid-19 loans within half an hour 

On 25 March 2020, the Swiss government launched a unique programme to provide liquidity support to small and medium-sized companies. SMEs that incur damage as a result of the pandemic can obtain a bridging loan of up to ten percent of their annual turnover from their bank through a quick and simple process. The loans of up to 500,000 Swiss francs, which are not subject to interest, are 100 percent government-backed and can be repaid over five years.

On the first day of the scheme, banks granted Covid-19 bridging loans worth around two billion Swiss francs. Around 140,000 credit agreements have now been concluded, with a volume of around 17 billion Swiss francs, through 124 participating banks. Switzerland has gained recognition throughout Europe for the ease and efficiency of the scheme, with the Financial Times commenting that "the co-operation between the banking system and federal government was brilliant."

Pandemic insurance

The Swiss government is currently examining the feasibility of an insurance pool solution to cover future pandemic events. A working group with representatives of federal authorities and the Swiss Insurance Association has made some proposals for a pandemic insurance and the Swiss government will decide on a course at the beginning of 2021.

Further information

Covid-19: Package of measures to counter the economic damage of the Corona pandemic (French or German only)

Covid-19-Loans: 

The Federal Council’s program 

The Swiss Bankers Association

Interview Ivo Menzinger, Swiss Re: “Pandemic insurance must be a real act of solidarity

Regulatory Affairs

Regulation is essential if we are to have trust in the stability of any financial centre - particularly as cross-border integration increases - but finding the right balance is key. Implementing appropriate measures in national regulation should safeguard the interests of all market players, but regulation should not put up disproportionate barriers to market entry or discourage innovation. Regulations should be developed as part of an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders throughout the industry.

Financial Market Authority

The Swiss regulator, FINMA, ensures that all financial service providers comply with the rules and that the financial system is stable. It authorises banks, insurance companies, stock exchanges and other market participants, monitors their activities, and takes action if they break the rules.

Further information, including on some specific projects

Systemically important banks

Depositor protection and bank insolvency

Implementing Basel III

Federal Financial Services Act (FinSA) and Financial Institutions Act (FinIA)

Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA)

Insurance Policies Act (IPA)

Insurance Oversight Act (IOA)

Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA)

 

Regulation: State Secretariat for International finance

Supervision: Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA

Automatic exchange of information

The global standard on the automatic exchange of financial account information (AEOI) aims to increase tax transparency and thus prevent cross-border tax evasion. Switzerland is one of more than 100 countries who have committed to adopting this standard.

Exchange of Financial Account Information: In place since 2017

The legal foundations for AEOI have been in place since 1 January 2017 and to date Parliament has approved the introduction of the AEOI with more than 100 partner states. Financial account information was successfully exchanged with 86 partner states at the end of September 2020.

Broad network

Switzerland’s network of AEOI partner states includes all EU and EFTA members, almost all of the G20, all OECD states, Switzerland’s most important economic partners, and the world’s leading financial centres. The selection of further partner states will depend on future developments at an international level.

Important data protection

With AEOI, bank and safekeeping account information is automatically submitted to the tax authorities in the participating countries on an annual basis. Bank-client confidentiality can thus not be abused by foreign customers for the purpose of evading taxes in the country of residence. The information of banking customers remains well protected even with the introduction of AEOI, because the tax authorities are bound to data protection and the principle of speciality.

Further  information

Figures of AEOI 2020: Federal Tax Administration

General AEOI information of State Secretariat for international finance SIF

The Swiss Bankers Association view on AEOI: Swissbanking

Tax Affairs

In Switzerland, taxes are levied at three federal levels: Confederation, cantons and municipalities. Tax laws are decided through democratic procedures, often combined with referendums. Switzerland strives to create an attractive tax climate for private individuals and companies in compliance with international standards. Switzerland is actively involved in the development of international tax standards in the OECD.

Attractive tax climate

According to a report by the Federal Tax Administration, the overall tax burden on legal entities in Switzerland has decreased from 23% to 17.3% between 2003 and 2020.

BEPS and Company Taxation

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has developed proposals as to how corporate tax can be adapted in the longer term to the increasingly digitalised economy (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, known as BEPS). Switzerland is participating in the development of these solutions.

Exchange of tax information

Tax authorities exchange information, including on financial accounts and advance tax rulings, in order to increase transparency and prevent cross-border tax evasion. The exchange of information in accordance with international standards can take place either upon request or automatically.

Further information

Company Taxation / BEPS: State Secretariat for International Finance SIF 

Exchange of Information: State Secretariat for International Finance SIF

Information for taxpayers: Federal Tax Administration

Development of the corporate tax burden in Switzerland from 2003 to 2020 (French and German only)

Anti Money Laundering (AML)

A healthy financial centre is of great importance to the Swiss economy. Over the past few decades, Switzerland has built up a robust and comprehensive system for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, combining preventative solutions with punitive measures.

AML Regulations: Steady Progress

Switzerland is a leader internationally in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, playing an active part in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF member states’ compliance with the FATF standards is regularly evaluated, and the FATF evaluated Switzerland for the fourth time in 2016. Although it acknowledged the overall good quality of the Swiss system, it identified certain shortcomings and made corresponding recommendations. In response, the Federal Council adopted the dispatch on the amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Act to implement the most important recommendations. The dispatch contains measures for providers of services in connection with companies or trusts and for financial intermediaries as well as promoting the transparency of associations. It also contains measures for trading in precious metals, precious stones and precious metal scrap.

Next steps

The amended act is expected to come into force by the start of 2022. In addition to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Swiss Civil Code, the Swiss Code of Obligations, the Criminal Code, the Precious Metals Control Act and the Financial Market Supervision Act also need to be amended in order to implement the measures.

Further information

Swiss State Secretariat for international finance

Modification of the Anti-Money Laundering Act

FATF Follow-up report Switzerland 2020

Illicit Financial Flows

Switzerland is committed to combating illicit financial flows and advocates for tougher international standards to tackle abuse. As a world-leading financial centre, Switzerland has implemented a number of additional measures to ensure the integrity of its financial centre.

A global problem…

Illicit financial flows are a complex global issue. The term broadly refers to the cross-border transfer of funds in connection with illegal activities such as money laundering, corruption, fraud and tax evasion. It is difficult to estimate the global volume of these flows. Switzerland, like all major international financial centres, is at risk of abuse and is firmly committed to tackling illicit financial flows with a multi-faceted approach.

…international solutions

In recent years, Switzerland has made a substantial contribution to the development of international standards, has adopted these standards into domestic law and is now committed to effective enforcement.

Swiss financial Integrity

Switzerland is an active member of several international anti-corruption mechanisms, such as the G20 anti-corruption working group, the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption of the Council of Europe, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

As part of its development cooperation, Switzerland has long supported programmes in developing countries to strengthen the institutions that counter illicit financial flows.

Further information

How Switzerland supports the fight against financial crime, corruption, tax evasion and over-indebtedness, and furthers the recovery of assets

Cybersecurity

The risk of cyberattacks is growing thanks to increased digitalisation and a rise in online criminal activity. The private sector must remain vigilant in defending itself against this risk, and the key to success in this area will be the close collaboration between authorities and the private sector.

Cybersecurity threats in the banking sector

Swiss banks have always met stringent cybersecurity requirements and are continually improving their security measures. In spite of these efforts, a large-scale cyberattack against Swiss banks is more of a threat than ever before. The consequences of such an attack could have a direct and significant impact on the Swiss population and economy.

It is vitally important that Switzerland can reap the benefits of an internationally connected cybersecurity and data privacy apparatus. This collaboration will enable Switzerland to continue to lead the way in cybersecurity and ensure that it maintains the trust of investors and customers.

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) 

The NCSC, headed by the Federal Cyber Security Delegate, was created by the Swiss Government to support businesses, educational institutions, public administrations and the general public in protecting against cyber-risks.

Further information

Swiss National Cyber Security Centre

Swiss Federal Department of Finance (French and German only):

Swissbanking

SIX Cyber Security Report 2020

Education

The Swiss financial centre offers a broad range of opportunities for education and training, and considers a highly skilled workforce to be a key factor in its success.

Financial and Banking Education

Education in the sector has progressed a long way since the traditional "banking and finance" education, evolving in line with innovation and advances in the industry as a whole. 

Today, training courses are offered in a wide array of subjects including Digital Finance, Sustainable Finance, Risk Management, Behavioural Finance, and Cybersecurity, reflecting the diversity and strengths of Switzerland’s financial centre.

There are close links between the banking and insurance industry and Switzerland’s world-renowned higher education institutions, with cutting edge research collaborations informing best practice in the industry.

Further information

Swiss Finance Museum

Swiss Finance Institute

SwissRe Institute Research

SIX Financial Markets Education

Insurance Education

Swissbanking Training

Sustainability in Financial Education

Business Location Switzerland

Are you expanding in Europe and considering Switzerland as a business location for your company? Here, you can get free advice and support throughout the entire settlement process: We will connect you unbureaucratically with the cantonal and regional economic promotion agencies and provide you with expert contacts for matters such as taxes, real estate, etc.

As a traditionally strong financial center with infrastructure close to universities, Switzerland offers ideal conditions for driving innovations in the fintech and blockchain scene.

Interested? Switzerland Global Enterprise offers free consultation. 

Get in touch with www.s-ge.com/invest

Locate in Switzerland and grow your business!