Swiss Banks

Newest Developments

On 10 March 2018, at he CSA meeting in Bern, the executive of the OSA announced that it had entered into a partnership with the Geneva Cantonal Bank (BCGE). In this partnership, the BCGE undertakes to make available bank accounts for Swiss Abroad, on terms and conditions similar to those applicable to persons resident in Switzerland, provided compliance with applicable Swiss and foreign regulations is maintained. The details of financial solutions for expatriates called ‘Xpatbanking’ can be viewed here. The BCGE maintains branches in Geneva, Lausanne, Zürich, Dubai and Hong Kong. 

 

According to first enquiries a basic online bank account is apparently available from CHF 6/month. The terms and conditions depend on the individual circumstances of the applicant and interested Swiss Abroad in Oceania are urged to make their own enquiries directly with the bank. 

Contact persons (depending on branch you want to visit / language you speak) are:
  • Anne de Gendre (Lausanne, french/english) email
  • Maria-Teresa Lopez Bouffard (Geneva, french/english) email
  • Karl Aeschbacher (Zürich, german/english) email
Further information:

 

While this can be viewed as a very positive development, time will tell how sucessful it will be in practice. If you have any experience to share – positive or negative, please contact your delegates. We are very keen to gather as much information as possible from Swiss Abroad wishing to establish a bank account with BCGE. 

 

Background

Since 2008 it has become increasingly difficult for the Swiss Abroad to open or maintain a bank account in Switzerland within reasonable conditions. 

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) has undertaken several interventions in order to find a solution to this problem, which affects a considerable number of Swiss citizens abroad. 

 

For one the OSA has intervened directly with the banks, and indirectly through the Swiss Bank Association, the Association of State Banks (Kantonalbanken), the Swiss Banking Ombudsman and the Federal Department of Finance. The OSA also contacted the price-supervisor who conducted an investigation into the banking conditions for Swiss Abroad.

 

Several parliamentary interventions were submitted and the OSA has given statements to legal consultations. Unfortunately, on 4 May 2017, the National Council has narrowly rejected a motion by Roland Rino Büchel (SVP/SG). The move demanded that all Swiss Abroad be allowed to open a bank account with a Swiss system-relevant bank. 

 

Within a very short time, numerous complaints about discriminatory business practices were submitted by Swiss abroad, media presence was sought by the OSA directorate and two new parliamentary interventions were lodged. One was to oblige banks to publish relevant information, data on bank expenses, interest rates and other offers, on the websites of the foreign ministry and Switzerland’s diplomatic representations abroad for the Swiss overseas communities. The other parliamentary motion demanded that PostFinance, the banking arm of the state-run Post Office, should be obliged to provide equal services to all Swiss citizens, regardless of where they live.

 

Both motions were approved in the first instance but were defeated in the House of Representatives in June 2018. Despite yet another disappointing setback, it is encouraging that more and more federal parliamentarians seem to be willing to listen – maybe also with a view to the upcoming federal elections in 2019.

 

The problem remains unresolved and our struggle will continue. If you are a Swiss citizen in our region of Oceania and you are affected by the banking problem, we CSA Oceania want to hear from you. Please share your experience with us, so that we can be a strong voice in Bern.

  

To establish a basic overview of the conditions applied by financial institutions in Switzerland for Swiss clients abroad, the OSA has conducted a survey in November 2016.

 

For the results of the survey click here

 

For further links to this topic on the website of the OSA click here