Accounting for 10% of GDP and employing around 230,000 people (5.4% of the employed population in Switzerland), the Swiss financial sector is of key economic importance. The main areas of expertise are private banking, asset management, and insurance. Switzerland’s long tradition of economic and financial stability is reflected in low inflation, low-interest rates, and the significant international role that the Swiss franc plays, particularly in asset management and issue underwriting business.
In Switzerland, there are some 300 banks, 200 insurance companies, and 2,000 pension funds. Apart from the two major global banks, UBS and Credit Suisse Group, which together hold approximately 50% of total assets, the cantonal, regional, and savings banks also play an important role. In addition, there are many smaller financial institutions and private banks, some of which offer highly specialized services such as commodity trade finance. The group of 24 cantonal banks, which are either entirely or partially under state ownership and which offer a government guarantee, have a domestic market share of about one third. Their share of total assets for all banks domiciled in Switzerland is approximately 17%-19%. Another 120 foreign-owned banks with a share of 11.6% of the total assets can be added to this number. Switzerland is a center for professional asset management for private clients and institutional investors. With a market share of 27.6% in 2015, it is the world leader in the cross-border asset management business. Overall Swiss banks managed assets totaling CHF 6,656 billion in 2014. Switzerland’s success as a financial center is thanks to the combined effect of many different factors. Its political and macroeconomic stability is the basic foundation upon which the trust of clients is built – trust which is so important in the financial business. The Swiss franc, with its status as an important international reserve and diversification currency, also contributes to this. Strong global integration and efficient financial infrastructure allow market players to manage assets and risks profitably and diversify them internationally. Switzerland enjoys an extremely good reputation abroad as a financial center, and it is an attractive location for businesses and an international clientele.
Switzerland classifies virtual currencies as assets (property). It has relaxed regulatory burdens on and entry barriers for innovative Fintech companies, while keeping risks associated with Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies related to investor protection, financial crime, and cyber threats in mind. There are currently no ICO-specific regulations, but depending on how the ICO is designed, financial market laws may be applicable. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Money laundering and securities regulation are the most relevant laws in this respect. Cryptocurrencies may also be subject to wealth, income, and capital gains tax. A comprehensive overview of the current status of cryptocurrency regime as it applies in Switzerland currently may be seen on the following link: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/cryptocurrency/switzerland.php