Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Swiss banking industry urged to adapt to new generation

The chief executive of Julius Baer, Boris Collardi, says that Swiss banks should adapt to a new generation of clients who "do not mind" paying taxes or declaring their assets to authorities.

Boris Collardi, the chief executive of the private bank Julius Baer, believes the Swiss banking industry must adapt to a generation of new clients for whom using the Alpine state to stash assets out of sight of tax authorities has little appeal.

The head of the third-largest bank in Switzerland and its biggest stand-alone private lender added that Swiss wealth managers must prepare for another two to three years of pain as the country's bank secrecy laws are eroded and the industry consolidates.

But Mr Collardi says younger members of the global elite will be more receptive to transparent dealings with tax authorities than the elder generation.

"High-net-worth individuals these days do not mind any more paying taxes or declaring their assets," he said. "They may still keep structures, but not for the sake of tax evasion."

As many people become more comfortable sacrificing privacy for the benefit of convenience as a consequence of wider use of the internet, private banks had further opportunities, he added.

Mr Collardi sits on the governing board of the Swiss Bankers Association, which was reported this week by the Swiss newspaper Aargauer Zeitung to have dropped its opposition to automatic information-sharing of client data with foreign tax authorities.

The shift in stance comes as developed countries have taken a hard line against tax evasion by corporations and the super-wealthy.

It is also becoming harder to maintain secrecy in the internet age. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists last month began publishing extracts from a "trove" of 2.5 million secret files shedding light on offshore companies and trusts held by some 130,000 wealthy individuals.

The change of direction on the part of Swiss banking represented "retrospective reconciliation" to the changed regulatory environment and a "fait accompli" for those that had campaigned to close tax havens, said Richard Murphy, the research director for Tax Justice Network, a British non-governmental organisation.

What the assault on bank secrecy means for Switzerland's competitive advantage as a financial centre is uncertain.

"Secrecy as a means to avoid paying taxes is gone, but this will be replaced for Switzerland by building up on the strong level of competencies that Switzerland has as a financial centre," Mr Collardi added.

ghunter@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Miele coffee maker making Cappuccino at Miele Gallery in Sama Tower in Dubai. The cost of this coffee maker is around Dh 17,000. Pawan Singh / The National

Space-age coffee comes at a price from Miele

Miele have taken the coffee machine to a new level with its Dh17,000 offering that is built into your kitchen.

 The bridge of Seajacks Hydra, as the wind farm installation vessel undergoes finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Building the Seajacks Hydra

The Seajacks Hydra, a wind farm installation vessel, is undergoing finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 The rush of new supply of hotel rooms pushed Dubai occupancy rates down to 87 per cent. Sarah Dea / The National

Dubai hotel room rates rise 10 per cent

The rush of new supply pushed occupancy rates down to 87 per cent, a dip of 2.6 per cent from the previous year. Winter months are the strongest for Dubai hotels, with occupancy and prices falling to half their peaks by July.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National