Financial market infrastructures as determinants for the attractiveness of Switzerland as an international financial centre

Niklaus Blattner, Member of the Governing Board

Annual General Meeting of the FSG Swiss Financial Services Group AG, Zurich, 15.05.2001

The Swiss international financial centre (SIFC) represents an economic centre of excellence. The main emphasis is on portfolio management. Occasionally, its attractiveness is attributed solely to the regulatory framework. While this has a certain significance, it is not the only decisive factor for the future. Other factors are important in addition to discretion. Solid suppliers of services and the cost/benefit ratio are, to say the least, equally important. Financial market infrastructures can be major pillars of the competitiveness of the SIFC, but only if they are uncompromisingly subordinated to efficiency. International cooperation and openness towards foreign customers help to breach the narrow confines of the Swiss domestic market. The development of the Swiss Value Chain underlines this thesis. Financial market supervisors and the central bank have a strong interest in an attractive financial centre. They recognise the significance of financial market infrastructures. In their authorisations and supervisory tasks they are obliged to carefully and comprehensively assess opportunities and risks. This obligation is taken very seriously.

The Swiss National Bank has a constitutional mandate to conduct Swiss monetary policy. In order to fulfil this task, it has to be able to rely on a well-functioning and stable financial system including robust securities and payment systems (infrastructures). A central bank can only influence price stability and economic development indirectly, i.e. via the supply of money or via money and capital markets respectively. A badly functioning or even unstable financial system makes it difficult or impossible to conduct monetary policy.