21 August 2015, updated 21 August 2016
Cantonal Banks are universal canton-owned banks, specializing in retail and corporate banking products for the residents of their canton. Liabilities of the majority of the Cantonal Banks are guaranteed by the owning canton. Cantonal Banks account about 30% of Swiss banking sector: consolidated total assets of all the Cantonal Banks are comparable with those of "Big Banks": UBS and Credit Suisse.
Cantonal banks are either 100% or majority-owned by the cantons. The banks can differ from each other in terms of their legal and organizational structures, their size and their business policies. Each canton, as owner, decides on its Cantonal Bank’s legal and organizational form, ownership structure, roles and fields of business to suit the canton’s specific objectives.
Most cantonal banks are universal banks operating in all fields of business, although they are particularly strong in savings and mortgage products. In 2015, mortgages account more than 60% of the Cantonal Banks total assets, while customer savings and investments - about 40% of their total liabilities.
In a few cases, asset management for domestic customers also plays an important role.
The individual Cantonal Banks operate primarily in the market of their home canton, where many of them are the market leaders. Some of the banks have branches outside their canton or offices even outside the country. The policies of serving foreign customers differ from bank to bank.
Every Cantonal Bank also has national presence through its membership in the Cantonal Banks Group. For example, with around 1,250 ATM, the Cantonal Banks have an extensive network of ATMs in Switzerland. Customers can withdraw cash in Swiss francs free of charge throughout Switzerland at the ATMs of any Cantonal Bank. There is a similar agreement covering over-the-counter business: for a small fee customers can pay in or withdraw cash throughout Switzerland at any Cantonal Bank.
For the most Cantonal Banks, the respective canton is liable for the bank’s liabilities. The canton determines whether it wishes to be liable for the liabilities of its Cantonal Bank and defines the amount of the guarantee.
21 out of 24 Cantonal Banks have full state guarantee. Berner Kantonalbank and Banque Cantonale Vaudoise have none state guarantee, while Banque Cantonale de Genève has limited guarantee from the canton.
The list of the Cantonal Banks with key financial data for 2015 and state guarantee is shown below.
|Name||Total Assets (mln CHF)||Annual Profit (mln CHF)||Number of Employees||State Guarantee|
|Banca dello Stato del Cantone Ticino||11411.53||42.79||427||full|
|Banque Cantonale de Fribourg||20623.24||122.69||380||full|
|Banque Cantonale de Genève||19939.08||78.21||718||limited|
|Banque Cantonale du Jura SA||2851.33||8.65||116||full|
|Banque Cantonale du Valais||13952.35||56.82||460||full|
|Banque cantonale neuchâteloise||10305.07||34.96||265||full|
|Banque Cantonale Vaudoise||42563.38||336.33||1947||none|
|Berner Kantonalbank AG||28034.67||131.26||1091||none|
|Luzerner Kantonalbank AG||33270.82||180.11||943||full|
|St.Galler Kantonalbank AG||31151.20||133.40||1059||full|