Published 16 September 2016
In 2015 banks in Switzerland faced negative interest rates and currency interventions of Swiss National Bank on the one hand, while on the other hand - tightened capital requirements as well as anti tax avoidance regulations. Such environment made the banks shift the business focus from international private banking and wealth management activities to domestic retail and corporate banking.
Swiss banks are successfully adopting their strategies to the new environment. Althought the number of banks decreased (in 2015, 8 new banks were opened while 15 banks closed), and the aggregate total assets for all banks in Switzerland fell by 15.5 bln CHF (0.5%) to 3,026.1 CHF bln, the total annual profit of all the banks in 2015 increased by 8.5 bln CHF (compared to 2014) to 15.8 bln CHF. This result was signicantly affected by high extraordinary income generated by the big banks.
During the past four years, the number of banks operating in Switzerland has been declining: each year the number of closed banks prevailed the number of newly opened banks. In 2015 there were 275 banks operating in Switzerland. 15 banks closed down their business in 2015. The majority of these banks were branches and subsidiaries of foreign banks and stock exchange banks, the same applies to the newly opened banks.
Despite the decreasing number of banks, consolidated total assets of the banks were gradually growing since 2009. However, in 2015 the aggregated total assets for all banks in Switzerland fell by 0.5%, with the largest decline registered for the big banks and foreign-controlled banks. The aggregated assets increased for Raiffeisen banks, cantonal banks and branches of foreign banks.
Mortgage loans and customer loans continues to be the main components of the banks assets. On the liabilities side, customer deposits are dominating. Since 2008 customer deposits were growing by more than 6% each year. In 2015, however, there was 2.2% decline of customer deposits. The decline was mainly attribitable to foreign deposits.
In 2015 UBS Switzerland AG was established to improve the resolvability of UBS Group in response to regulatory requirements. UBS AG's Retail & Corporate and Wealth Management businesses in Switzerland were transferred to newly founded UBS Switzerland AG.
Societe Generale opened its private banking subsidiary, SOCIETE GENERALE Private Banking (Lugano-Svizzera) SA.
UK-based IG Group established IG Bank. The bank specializes in providing online trading services for a variety of financial instruments.
In 2015 Finter Bank was taken over by Vontobel Holding.
In 2015 ARVEST Privatbank AG voluntary surrendered its banking license to focus on fund and asset management activities.
On July 8, 2015 an extraordinary general meeting of Medibank decided to liquidate the company voluntarily.
On October 26, 2015 Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) initiated bankruptcy proceedings against Bank Hottinger & Cie AG as the bank was at risk of becoming overly indebted.