The Banks of SwitzerlandThe banking in Switzerland based on the principle of universal banking. Numerous bank groups are now entirely or partially specialized in the following categories:
The "big" banksThe two “big” banks, the UBS AG and the Credit Suisse Group account for over half of the balance sheet total of all banks in Switzerland. UBS AG is the world’s leader focusing on wealth management, investment banking and securities business. It is furthermore the leading bank for individual and also corporate clients. The Credit Suisse Group is a financial services provider on a global scale, serving global enterprises and public corporations. They offer extensive financial advice to private clients, it offers pension and insurance solutions through the Winterthur and acts as a financial intermediary.
Cantonal banksThere are 24 Cantonal banks in the 26 cantons in Switzerland. These are organizations partly owned by the government (under state guarantee) and partly privately-owned. However, their close link to the state does not mean that they do not have comply with the commercial principles. Their major objective is to promote the canton’s economy. The field of activity includes all banking businesses with an emphasis on lending and giving deposits.
Regional banks and savings banks These are small universal banks. Their emphasis also lies on lending and offering deposit in only one region. This allows them to be closer to their customers and therefore better familiar with the local circumstances and regional cycles.
The Raiffeisen GroupThe Raiffeisen Group consists of affiliated independent banks with strong local roots. It is structured along cooperative lines and looks back at a long history.
The Raiffeisen banks have the majority of branches in Switzerland and is the leading retail bank. The Swiss Union of Raiffeisen Banks is responsible for the strategic leadership as well as the risk management of the group. It furthermore provides on-the-ground framework conditions for all business activities of the individual local banks (e.g. IT, infrastructure, refinancing), advises and supports them in all matters. This enables the individual branches to focus on their core business.
Private banksPrivate bank are mainly individually owned firms, collective or limited partnerships. Private bankers are subject to unlimited subsidiary liability with their personal assets. They are active in the field of asset management for private clients and do not offer savings deposits.
Foreign banksIn this case over 50% of the company’s votes are held by foreigners with qualified interests. These banks mainly come from Europe, predominantly the EU (over 50%), Japan (around 20%). Their fields of activity include the foreign business and asset management.
Other banksThis category includes banks pursuing varying business objectives like the specialization in the stock exchange, securities and asset management. Commercial banks are also part of this category. They usually are universal banks for which mortgage investments play a significant role, in addition to commercial loans to trade, industry and commerce. The so-called consumer credit institutes are specializing in small loans (to private individuals and the industry).