In what shape is the Swiss financial centre?

Niklaus Blattner, Member of the Governing Board

3rd IIR Annual conference on the clearing and settlement of securities, Zurich, 23 July 2002, 23.07.2002

The Swiss international financial centre is efficient. It is particularly competent in asset management and is characterised by solidity. It owes its success to a combination of economic and political stability, the acceptance of international competition, specialist competence and the promotion of integrity. Recently, the International Monetary Fund confirmed that Switzerland fulfils a special role in regulation and oversight. In relation to the European Union, the bilateral course will continue to be pursued. Currently, two issues are of particular relevance: combating fraud and taxation on interest income. Both are closely linked with banking secrecy, which protects financial privacy without at the same time being an obstacle to the fight against criminality.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has a natural interest in a solid and efficient financial system in Switzerland. The financial system is the platform of monetary policy. It takes well-functioning, solvent financial intermediaries for the transmission of monetary policy to the financial markets, the economy and the price level. The infrastructures of cashless payment systems have a critical function. Supervision by the central bank aims at ensuring the smooth functioning of the systems and preventing domino effects. Payment systems that are crucial for the stability of the financial system must conform to international basic principles. Major security requirements are a technology immune to disruptions and precautions against the transmission of insolvency from one participant to the others. In the new National Bank Law submitted by the Federal Council, supervision of securities settlement systems is also regulated. In future, such systems are to be supervised jointly by the Federal Banking Commission (FBC) and the SNB. The SNB will become active in securities settlement only where it has a comparative advantage: in the assessment of settlement risks. In its actions, the SNB assumes responsibility for the whole. The SNB's primary contribution is to ensure monetary stability. Beyond this, it shares the responsibility for the stability and the continued development of the financial system. It does this in its capacity as supervisor of payment and securities settlement systems, as lender of last resort and as advisor to the Federal Council in questions of financial centre policy.

In what shape is the Swiss financial centre? – In excellent shape! The Swiss financial centre is economically sound. It has efficient providers of financial services. The financial market infrastructures, regulation and oversight, legal, economic, financial and monetary policy conditions as well as the social environment are good. Numerous technological, economic and political challenges present themselves. The Swiss financial centre, however, is exceedingly well prepared to meet these challenges successfully.