Swiss Banking Institutions -
When one thinks of offshore banking, here in Europe, one thinks of the time honored tradition of a Swiss Bank Account. Switzerland has been renowned as a neutral country with a strict adherence to privacy and confidentiality of clients and transactions. It is synonymous with professional, completely discreet and secure banking. Traditionally, individuals have looked to Swiss offshore accounts to safeguard their substantial assets and to eradicate the need to pay substantial onshore tax.
The stalwart history of Swiss Banks is their provenance. For literally hundreds of years, from the time of Louis XIV of France, through the French Revolution and two World Wars, Swiss Bank Accounts have been safeguarding finances and assets from undue taxation or civil unrest. Seen as the leader for international banking, Switzerland has provided all of these offshore services to the discerning investor.
One of the main reasons for the success of Swiss Banking is the sophisticated legislation that supports the private banking institutions in shielding assets from public scrutiny. The world-
Introduction to offshore banking
Essentially, an offshore bank is a bank located outside the account holder’s country of residence, typically in a low tax jurisdiction. Switzerland is the European capital for offshore banking and around one third of global private wealth is based in the country.
Reasons for offshore banking
People choose to bank offshore for several reasons. Client confidentiality is one of the foundations of Swiss banking, a feature that is often highly prized by clients. Swiss banking laws ensure that no information can be divulged by Swiss banks to a third party – even a foreign government. To do so would result in criminal charges being brought against the bank and its employees. Notably, tax avoidance and exchange control violations are not criminal activities in Switzerland and therefore would not be grounds to compromise standard confidentiality.
Additionally, those living or working abroad may find that holding an international bank account makes it easier for them to manage their finances when they are outside their home country.
Individuals based in countries that are less politically or financially stable than Switzerland may be worried about the security of domestically held funds. As a long-
Advantages and disadvantages of offshore banking
Offshore bank accounts are often available in multiple currencies, which can be more convenient when making or receiving payments in different currencies. Complex foreign exchange features may also be available e.g. being able to fix currency prices for up to a year in advance. This removes the uncertainty that can be a feature of dealing internationally.
Typically deposit holders with offshore banks have limited protection of capital. However in Switzerland, the depositor protection scheme (Esisuisse) affords protection for deposit holders of up to CHF 100,000 (EUR 81,000), regardless of whether the client is domiciled in Switzerland or abroad.
However, offshore banking services usually require greater financial assets than other types of account – it is not unusual for banks to require balances of EUR 100,000 or more.
Historically Swiss banks have offered anonymous accounts. This has changed in recent years, as a result of pressure from the United States, and it is no longer possible to open 'Numbered Accounts' for the benefit of undisclosed clients.
Swiss Banking Today
With its long-
Swiss Banking, with its technology and assured discretion, is the ultimate answer to the offshore banking question. It has always, and continues to, provide a practical, effective solution to the safeguarding assets, whether monetary or property. Whether your finances need to be shielded from economic or political unrest, taxation, legal duress or even divorce, a Swiss Bank Account could be the perfect solution to your requirements.
Famous offshore banks
The Swiss banking sector is dominated by Credit Suisse and UBS AG, which are two of the world’s top 10 private banks. There are a large number of other established banks, including the following:
Cantonal Bank de Geneve
Banque Cantonale Neuchateloise
Bank Vontobel AG