The challenges facing a financial centre: the case of Switzerland

Jean-Pierre Roth, Chairman of the Governing Board

Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 23 September 2002, 23.09.2002

The first major challenge for the Swiss banking sector is the consolidation wave it will most probably have to confront. The continuous fall in stock markets and the resulting cost pressure have perhaps marked the beginning of this development, as the announced mergers of private and regional banks suggest. Without a doubt, the players in the Swiss financial centre will once again successfully prove their outstanding ability to adjust, as they did already in the 1990s.

The other major challenge facing our financial centre is the savings tax issue, discussed in the framework of the bilateral negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Switzerland. Switzerland firmly opposes adopting the information exchange system advocated by the EU and proposes a convincing alternative solution. Our British friends, who directly measure the negative impact a withholding tax might have on the development of the London Eurobond market, clearly ignore the disastrous consequences for the European financial centre of a transformation of bankers into zealous tax officers.