Swiss Bankers Join Endangered Species List

Luckily people are still buying wristwatches.
Might as well move a start-up in here. By Swiss Bank Corporation / Bankers Magazine [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Might as well move a start-up in here. (Swiss Bank Corporation / Bankers Magazine via Wikimedia Commons)

When Mike Baur was 16, he joined a 250-year-old private bank. The human resources manager laid out what Baur’s entire career would look like, full of fat paychecks, tailored suits and plum office space straight through to retirement, the next 50 years neatly compressed on a single sheet of paper.

Baur’s now 41. But he’s not a Swiss banker anymore, because—horror of horrors—everything has changed.

Mr. Baur isn’t alone: Life for the archetypal Swiss banker just isn’t what it used to be. That has spawned a cultural shift in a country as known for its polished financiers as its mountain peaks….

The banking sector’s contribution to GDP slipped from 7.6% to slightly below 5% over the same period, according to government data.

From 2005 to last year, employment growth in the Swiss financial-services sector lagged well behind both real estate and construction. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the number of Swiss-based bank employees fell over 6%, to 103,042, according to Swiss National Bank data.

I mean, just at look Baur’s former employer, Credit Suisse, which is giving thousands of Mike Baurs the ax.

“Our strategy is working,” said Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam, while disclosing that Credit Suisse had eliminated more jobs than anticipated and that it aimed to make further cost cuts over the next couple of years.

Dark days in Zürich and Zug. But perhaps it’s a bit hyperbolic to say that everything has changed:

Switzerland should do more when it comes to preventing financial crime, the report concluded. In particular, banks and other financial intermediaries should step up efforts to spot and report suspected crime.

Banks too seldom reported suspicious transactions, the FATF said, and most such reports occurred only after information from external sources had come to light.

It’s Just No Fun Being a Swiss Banker Anymore [WSJ]
Credit Suisse Shares Climb as Bank Seeks to Reassure Skeptics on Overhaul [WSJ]
Switzerland makes progress in money laundering fight: task force report [Reuters]