Geneva’s Biggest Banks Expect Increased 2013 Net Income

Geneva’s largest banks expect profit to rise in 2013 after clients added net new money in the first half, a survey by the city’s financial lobby group showed.

Full-year net income will advance by as much as 14 percent, according to seven out of 10 of banks with at least 200 employees, Geneve Place Financiere said today in a report. Those 10 banks reported net new money was positive or little changed in the six months through June.

Smaller wealth managers are less optimistic, according to Geneve Place Financiere, which surveyed 155 firms including Pictet & Cie. and Lombard Odier & Cie. More than 50 percent of both medium-sized banks and independent asset managers described 2013 as “difficult” or “very difficult.”

The results “are mainly good,” Nicolas Pictet, vice president of Geneve Place Financiere and a managing partner at his family’s bank, told reporters today. “These figures mask a much less rosy reality for Geneva,” as most inflows came from overseas subsidiaries, he said.

Almost half of independent asset managers forecast a loss this year and 54 percent said clients made net withdrawals in the first six months, according to today’s survey.

While larger banks expect headcount to increase such as through acquisitions, the number of employees in the local finance industry fell 5.3 percent to 19,110 in the year through September, according to Geneve Place Financiere. The number of banks in Geneva dropped to 123 from 133 a year earlier.

Swiss banks are facing increasing legal and regulatory costs including U.S. tax investigations that could result in “considerable” fines, according to Pictet. A failure to negotiate better market access to European Union countries may prompt companies to cut “thousands” of jobs or move them abroad, he said, citing a study by the Swiss Bankers Association.

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