Skip to main content


Swiss banks
Swissness is not enough
Big and small must adapt to survive

Mar 29th 2014 | ZURICH | From the print edition

LIKE their country’s watchmakers, Swiss banks have enjoyed a reputation for quality, reliability and watertight discretion. But since 2008, spectacular coups by neighbouring countries’ tax authorities and investigations by America’s Department of Justice have torn at their reputation. 

Now they are trying to rebuild one as squeaky-clean money managers.

The deceptive calm of shoppers on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich belies the turmoil behind the doors of nearby financial institutions. 

Foreign banks are selling out. 

The biggest Swiss names are dogged by litigation and calls for more capital just as costs are rising and margins falling.

 On March 13th they lost a prominent client: Uli Hoeness, president of Bayern Munich football club, was jailed for three-and-a-half years by a Munich court for avoiding tax on money in a Swiss bank account.

It is now clear to even the most obstinate Swiss banker that he must change his game or face ruin. 

Four of the classic Swiss private banks, Pictet, Lombard Odier, Mirabaud and La Roche, have opted for limited liability, ending the owners’ total responsibility for the core bank—mainly because of the risk these days of picking the wrong clients. 

That leaves a shrinking number of private banks in Geneva, of the sort whose offerings go beyond providing financial advice into something more akin to a lifestyle concierge service. Some are surely too small to survive.

Swiss bank secrecy is no longer a protection. Between them the OECD, a rich-country club, and the EU are insisting on a voluntary exchange of information that makes banks declare each account automatically to the relevant tax authority.

 America has dished out hefty fines, too, and forced lenders to hand over names, a once-unthinkable breach of client trust.

To make things worse, in February a narrowly-won referendum calling for quotas on immigration has clouded negotiations on Switzerland’s continued access to EU markets. 

Swiss banks, though rapidly expanding their client base in Asia, still rely on Europe for around 35% of foreign client money. 

In an effort to keep up with EU regulation, a new draft Swiss financial-services law outlaws commissions linked to the sale of financial products. That is a severe blow to bankers and financial advisers who have lived off incentives to sell certain products and the churning of unwary clients’ portfolios.

Amid this turmoil, new patterns are emerging, and hopes of salvation. Size and reach matter more than ever. 

UBS and Credit Suisse, the big two, together added SFr100 billion ($108 billion) to their private-banking assets in 2013. 

Bank Julius Bär, the fourth-biggest, has gambled on Asia, buying the non-American operations of Merrill Lynch in 2012. Now Asia accounts for a quarter of its assets under management.

More broadly, Zurich hopes to reinvent itself as a handler of money for institutions rather than individuals. Such asset management is more transparent than private banking and less prone to attracting dodgy clients. 

Some banks are ahead of the curve. 

Vontobel is as much an asset manager as a private bank: two-thirds of its business is institutional. 

Raiffeisenbank last year started buying asset-management boutiques to diversify from its local mortgage-lending business.

 The core of the new operation, Notenstein, was the non-American business of Wegelin, which closed down after running afoul of American regulators in 2012.

Unless a private banker or asset manager stays very Swiss and very small he will need access to clients in the EU. 

It looks increasingly as though that will mean having a presence in Germany or London. 

Bär and Vontobel have licensed banks in Germany. Pictet and Lombard Odier have big operations in London. 

Credit Suisse, rather counter-intuitively, recently sold its private bank in Germany and a chunk of its asset-management operations. 

Many wonder if its high-rolling investment bank wouldn’t have been a more suitable unit to flog.

Boris Collardi, chief executive of Julius Bär, sees virtue in what he calls “pure-play” private banking. Bär spun off its asset-management division in 2009. 

He reckons that the Swiss are still recognised as the best in the world at private banking, in terms of service and knowledge of tax laws in many jurisdictions. 

Zeno Staub, his counterpart at Vontobel, sees service and performance as two pillars of private banking, with stability or Swissness as the third. But “Swissness is only an add-on,” he says, “it’s not the key any more.”

Popular posts from this blog


While "Flavor" is very subjective, and each country that grows mangoes is very nationalistic, these are the mango varieties that are the most sought after around the world because of sweetnesss (Brix) and demand.

The Chaunsa has a Brix rating in the 22 degree level which is unheard of!
Carabao claims to be the sweetest mango in the world and was able to register this in the Guiness book of world records.
Perhaps it is time for a GLOBAL taste test ???

In alphabetical order by Country....



Alphonso (mango)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alphonso (हापुस Haapoos in Marathi, હાફુસ in Gujarati, ಆಪೂಸ್ Aapoos in Kannada) is a mango cultivar that is considered by many[who?] to be one of the best in terms of sweetness, richness and flavor. 

It has considerable shelf life of a week after it is ripe making it exportable. 

It is also one of the most expensive kinds of mango and is grown mainly in Kokan region of western India.

 It is in season April through May and the fruit wei…

INDIA 2016 : Mango production in state likely to take a hit this year

TNN | May 22, 2016, 12.32 PM IST

Mangaluru: Vagaries of nature is expected to take a toll on the production of King of Fruits - Mango - in Karnataka this year. A combination of failure of pre-monsoon showers at the flowering and growth stage and spike in temperature in mango growing belt of the state is expected to limit the total production of mango to an estimated 12 lakh tonnes in the current season as against 14 lakh tonnes in the last calendar year.

However, the good news for fruit lovers is that this could see price of mangoes across varieties decrease marginally by 2-3%. This is mainly on account of 'import' of the fruit from other mango-growing states in India, said M Kamalakshi Rajanna, chairperson, Karnataka State Mango Development and Marketing Corporation Ltd.

Karnataka is the third largest mango-growing state in India after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Inaugurating a two-day Vasanthotsava organized by Shivarama Karantha Pilikula Nisargadhama and the Corporation at P…

Mangoes date back 65 million years according to research ...

Experts at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany (BSIP) here have traced the origin of mango to the hills of Meghalaya, India from a 65 million year-old fossil of a mango leaf. 

The earlier fossil records of mango (Mangifera indica) from the Northeast and elsewhere were 25 to 30 million years old. The 'carbonized leaf fossil' from Damalgiri area of Meghalaya hills, believed to be a mango tree from the peninsular India, was found by Dr R. C. Mehrotra, senior scientist, BSIP and his colleagues. 

After careful analysis of the fossil of the mango leaf and leaves of modern plants, the BISP scientist found many of the fossil leaf characters to be similar to mangifera.

An extensive study of the anatomy and morphology of several modern-day species of the genus mangifera with the fossil samples had reinforced the concept that its centre of origin is Northeast India, from where it spread into neighbouring areas, says Dr. Mehrotra. 

The genus is believed to have disseminated into neighb…