Categorized | Banks, Legal, Miscellaneous

Bank Accounts in Switzerland

Posted on 27 March 2007 by Fixer

When someone mentions Swiss Banks the first thing that probably comes to mind is security and confidentiality. One of the reasons for this is that all banks in Switzerland are subject to the regulations of the Banking Law of 1934 which strictly limits the kind of information a third party (including governments) may be given about an account, and under what circumstances. Banking secrecy is extremely difficult to lift, requiring consent from a court. However in criminal cases involving money laundering, drug trafficking, extortion, or terrorism, banking secrecy is now lifted subsequent to judicial procedures. Outside of these cases, such as private circumstances concerning inheritance or divorce, it is rare that federal courts require a lifting of banking secrecy. Recently, bank secrecy has been lifted in some cases involving fraudulent bankruptcy.

Interestingly, in Switzerland tax evasion is not seen as a crime. To the fiercely independent Swiss mind, tax evasion is considered rather a misdemeanor. It is therefore not valid grounds for of profitable employment in Switzerland's banking sectorbanking secrecy. The rules of bank secrecy remain in effect even after account closure. Infractions of the laws on bank secrecy can result in prison terms and heavy fines.

Opening a bank account

You can open an account as a private individual, a company, or a cooperative association. In Switzerland there is no required minimum opening amount but normally banks have their own minimum balance policy. If you are student there is usually little or no account fee. You have the option of opening an account in local currency (Swiss Francs) or a foreign currency account in dollars, euros, or some other currency, and which will carry no interest.. It is also possible to open a Swiss bank account even if you are not in Switzerland. Instead of being physically present all you have to do is contact a representative of the bank office in the country you are in and then you are given the required information. Depending on the bank, you are either sent documents by mail or have the banks official meet you with the documents to fill out. Banks ask you to provide :

where the money is• Valid passport
• Photograph
• Proof of the source of your funds.

Opening an account at a foreign branch of a Swiss bank often requires an opening balance of at least $200,000. This is because outside of Switzerland, only the ‘private banking’ arms of the Swiss Banks are offering services. The reverse is true inside of Switzerland. If you want to open an account at Lloyds or Societe Generale in Switzerland, you need at least Euro 200,000. However you can open an account at UBS or Credit Suisse or any of the cantonal banks with $50. There many types of accounts but the three main ones are:

Deposit accounts – type of account paying low interest and allowing maximum flexibility for funds momevment. Available in any major traded currency.

Savings accounts – modest interest payments but restrictions on how much money you can withdraw in a given month. Limits range from the least permissive SF 5000/month to most permissive SF 50,000/month. Savings accounts are only available in local currency.

Investment accounts – Once you have one of the above accounts, other types of services are available as soon as your assets warrant it. Depending on your financial surface, the banks will attribute an advisor or account manager to you, who can open a custodial account for stock exchange, FOREX, derivatives or commodities trading, or what have you. The banks often divide up their clientele in several tiers:

• under CHF 250,000
• under CHF 500,000
• under CHF1,000,000
• under CHF5,000,000

Many private will not accept to open accounts for clients with less an CHF 500,000. But the private banking divisions of the large commercial banks such as Credit Suisse and UBS welcome these clients.

Numbered accounts – these famous accounts allow you remain anonymous, your identity known only to a few people within the bank (usually your account manager and the bank management). Destined primarily to protect against the threat of spies planted within the bank to ferret out account holders, the expensive overhead on these accounts makes them unsuitable for small sums.

The banking and financial sector is one of the healthiest branches of the Swiss economy and numerous job opportunities exist such as portfolio and relationship management, business analysis, software development and systems implementations, service management, and logistics and personnel. Consult the websites of the major banking institutions or have a look at our job offerings as a point of departure for your job searching.

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