Cantonal Banks

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.

Total Assets of Cantonal Banks vs Big banks

Ownership Structure

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.

Business Focus

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.

Mortgages in Total Assets of Cantonal Banks
Customer Savings in Total Liabilities of Cantonal Banks

In a few cases, asset management for domestic customers also plays an important role.

Area Served

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.

State Guarantee

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.

List of Cantonal Banks

The list of the Cantonal Banks with key financial data for 2015 and state guarantee is shown below.

NameTotal Assets (mln CHF)Annual Profit (mln CHF)Number of EmployeesState Guarantee
Aargauische Kantonalbank24282.64 155.37 690full
Appenzeller Kantonalbank2925.31 11.93 76full
Banca dello Stato del Cantone Ticino11411.53 42.79 427full
Banque Cantonale de Fribourg20623.24 122.69 380full
Banque Cantonale de Genève19939.08 78.21 718limited
Banque Cantonale du Jura SA2851.33 8.65 116full
Banque Cantonale du Valais13952.35 56.82 460full
Banque cantonale neuchâteloise10305.07 34.96 265full
Banque Cantonale Vaudoise42563.38 336.33 1947none
Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank23185.85 130.45 644full
Basler Kantonalbank22591.71 126.24 1284full
Berner Kantonalbank AG28034.67 131.26 1091none
Glarner Kantonalbank4989.20 20.02 167full
Graubündner Kantonalbank23090.80 168.18 792full
Luzerner Kantonalbank AG33270.82 180.11 943full
Nidwaldner Kantonalbank4281.09 15.61 139full
Obwaldner Kantonalbank4273.83 14.68 149full
Schaffhauser Kantonalbank6637.81 49.63 282full
Schwyzer Kantonalbank16193.61 73.61 490full
St.Galler Kantonalbank AG31151.20 133.40 1059full
Thurgauer Kantonalbank20867.77 122.38 686full
Urner Kantonalbank2854.06 17.41 99full
Zuger Kantonalbank14313.31 61.47 402full
Zürcher Kantonalbank152850.95 722.27 5179full

External Links

  1. Cantonal Banks Group