Switzerland is known for its robust financial sector, making it a top destination for private banking. With a stable economy, robust regulatory framework, and high-quality services, Swiss banks are highly regarded worldwide. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at private banks in Switzerland and offer details on the top 7 private banks and explore what sets them apart.
What We Will Cover
Swiss Banking Regulations
The Swiss financial sector is regulated by two leading authorities: the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). The SNB is responsible for ensuring the financial system’s stability, while FINMA sets banking regulations and oversees all financial activities. This framework allows for a stable and secure banking environment that fosters economic growth.
Top 7 Private Banks in Switzerland
We’ve compiled a list of the top 7 private banks in Switzerland, highlighting their assets under management, services, and reputation:
- Zurich Cantonal Bank
- Raiffeisen Switzerland
- Credit Suisse
- EFG International
- Banque Cantonale de Genève
In-Depth Look at the Top 7
Each of these banks offers a unique set of services and boasts a rich history. In the following sections, we’ll explore what makes each bank exceptional and how they contribute to Switzerland’s financial landscape.
UBS is the largest private bank in Switzerland by assets under management (AUM), with nearly $2.5 trillion in assets. Founded in 1862, UBS has shifted its focus from investment banking to wealth management. The bank provides an array of services, including asset management, investment banking, and retail banking.
Zurich Cantonal Bank
Established in 1870, Zurich Cantonal Bank is the largest cantonal bank in Switzerland. The bank offers bank accounts, mortgage loans, investment management services, and professional financing advisory services to Swiss and German clients. With approximately 81 branches and 348 ATMs throughout the country, it reported total assets of US$165.2 billion in 2016.
Raiffeisen Switzerland is a cooperative bank and the third-largest bank in Switzerland. Serving around 3.7 million clients, the bank operates over 1,004 branches in Switzerland. Raiffeisen Switzerland is a member of the International Raiffeisen Union (IRU) and focuses on retail banking, mortgage lending, and private banking services.
Founded in 1856, Credit Suisse has a global presence, operating in over 50 countries with more than 46,840 employees from 170 different nations. The bank serves clients through three regionally focused divisions: International Wealth Management, Swiss Universal Bank, and Asia Pacific. Credit Suisse is a key player in global financial stability.
EFG International, established in 1995, is a subsidiary of EFG Bank European Financial Group. The bank offers private banking and asset management services, operating in 40 locations worldwide. EFG International’s Private Banking and Wealth Management segment is divided into Continental Europe, Switzerland, the Americas, the United Kingdom, and Asia. In 2019, the bank’s total income amounted to US$755.07 million, and its total assets reached US$44,257 million.
Pictet specializes in private banking, wealth management, and asset management services. Founded in 1805, the bank does not offer retail or commercial loans or investment banking, which limits its lead generation. Pictet reported net new money of CHF1bn in 2018, emphasizing its focus on wealth and asset management.
Banque Cantonale de Genève
Established in 1816, Banque Cantonale de Genève is a regional bank offering a comprehensive range of products and services for retail and corporate clients. The bank provides deposit products, personal and mortgage loans, debit and credit cards, asset management, private banking, and more. In 2018, the bank’s operating income reached CHF 161.3 million, with a net profit of CHF 91.2 million. Banque Cantonale de Genève operates 21 branches and 124 ATMs, employing nearly 800 people.
Video: The Best Private Banks for Wealthy People
How to open a Swiss bank account from the US
Opening an account with a private bank in Switzerland may be extremely helpful if your business has customers in Europe. Here is a step-by-step guide to opening a Swiss bank account in the US.
Choose the Right Bank
- Research Swiss banks and select one that aligns with your needs.
- Consider factors such as account types, minimum deposit requirements, fees, and offered services.
- Popular Swiss banks for international clients include UBS, Credit Suisse, and Julius Baer.
Contact the Bank
- Reach out to inquire about account opening procedures for U.S. clients.
- Some banks may have dedicated representatives for international clients who can provide assistance in English.
Prepare Required Documents
- A valid passport or government-issued ID for identification purposes.
- Proof of residence (e.g., utility bill or rental agreement).
- A reference letter from your current bank.
- A signed application form provided by the Swiss bank.
- Verification of the source of funds (e.g., employment contract, tax return, or bank statement).
Complete the Application Process
- Complete the application process online, via mail, or through video call services, depending on the bank’s procedures.
- In certain cases, a visit to Switzerland or a bank representative’s office in the U.S. might be necessary.
Make the Initial Deposit
- Once your account is approved, make an initial deposit to activate the account.
- Be aware of the minimum deposit amount, which varies by bank and account type.
Monitor and Manage Your Account
- After your account is active, monitor and manage it online or through the bank’s mobile app.
- Stay informed about regulatory changes and reporting requirements for U.S. citizens with foreign bank accounts, such as FATCA and FBAR.
Note: Opening a Swiss bank account as a U.S. citizen can be more challenging due to increased scrutiny and reporting requirements. Be sure to choose a bank familiar with regulations applicable to U.S. clients.
Final Thoughts On Private Banks in Switzerland
Switzerland’s reputation as a global financial hub is well-deserved, thanks to its strong regulatory framework and an array of top-notch private banks. The top 7 private banks in Switzerland each bring something unique to the table, offering a variety of services and expertise. Whether you’re seeking asset management, wealth planning, or other private banking services, these institutions are well-equipped to cater to your needs.