Swiss money managers may relocate businesses abroad if the Alpine nation fails to negotiate better market access to the European Union, said Nicolas Pictet, chairman of the Swiss Private Bankers Association.
“It’s urgent and important that Switzerland focuses on guaranteeing external market access for its financial industry,” Pictet told reporters today in the Swiss capital, Bern. Otherwise “we will see more and more relocations and our financial center will gradually decline.”
The Swiss government neglected competitiveness and better market access in its negotiations with the EU over financial and tax matters, according to Pictet, who is also a managing partner at Geneva’s biggest bank, Pictet & Cie. While EU directives on investor protection have “noble aims,” they present barriers to firms in countries outside the bloc, he said.
Switzerland will later this year draft a financial-services law focusing on investor protection, which reflects an EU directive known as MiFID II. The private bankers also want Switzerland to forge an agreement to exempt Swiss banks from a provision of the EU rules forcing them to establish subsidiaries or branches to serve markets such as Germany and France.
“A financial-services agreement would be relatively complicated to establish because it is an agreement between governments involving supervisory factors, but in a nutshell the principle is for Switzerland to be able to provide services for EU citizens from within its own borders,” Pictet said in an interview in Bern.
The Swiss Private Bankers Association’s 12 members, which include Pictet and Lombard Odier & Cie., have added 234 jobs in Switzerland over the past three years, a 5 percent increase. That compares with a 22 percent boost, or 444 posts, overseas, said Pictet, adding that cross-border wealth management provides more than half of the “added value” created by banks in the Swiss economy.