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Multinationals Reconsider Switzerland

Posted on 25 January 2010 by Steven

swiss_economy_downAccording to a SwissHoldings survey conducted in 2009 across 80 of the largest multinational groups operating in Switzerland, there is considerable anxiety and uncertainty over the degradation of working conditions and ‘standard of living’ in general.

The erosion of banking secrecy is no the only illness affecting the health of the Swiss economy. Switzerland is also suffering from a variety of other problems, some of which of such a serious nature that many multinationals are re-examining the advantages of remaining in Switzerland.

Criticism is rising concerning the different tax regimes in operation in the different cantons, which compete to attract the multinationals and foreign holding companies.

This loose federated system is under attack by the European Union, of which Switzerland is not even a member; the EU considers it to be unfair competition.

The companies surveyed evinced anxiety over the uncertainty over the political direction Switzerland will take. The Swiss only narrowly voted for bilateral agreements with the European Union permitting the free flow of workers into Switzerland from any EU country, and the integration into the Schengen space. The result has been a stark degradation in the employment market, as well as precipitous rise in criminality and disorder. In all the major Swiss cities, open air drug dealing and violent crime has risen sharply, prisons and police forces are overwhelmed, and at the same time real-estate prices and rents have exploded as Switzerland welcomed 300,000,000 potential buyers onto its market. Previously, Switzerland’s laws forbid the acquisition of property by nonresidents.

Multinationals have often chosen to set up their European headquarters in Switzerland not only for tax advantages but for the standard of living it offered its expatriates — a major selling point in its global recruitment efforts. The decline in living standards, along with overcrowding, housing shortages, regular traffic jams, rising criminality and other social problems previously unknown here, are causing companies to reconsider their presence here.

A change in the tax structure may just be the last straw. Finance Minister Hans Merz (who was responsible for the UBS bailout) has proposed instead of changing the regime of cantonal prerogatives in taxation, to rather appease EU concerns by proposing to abolish or modify the statutes regulating domiciled or holding companies. The cantons would be forced to raise their taxation of these types of companies. The Swiss government has been doing a lot appeasing of foreign governments over the past year. In Switzerland the Federal government (following almost a Chinese-style model) is not elected by the people.

SwissHoldings director Peter Baumgartner laid particular stress on the fact that the large international companies are seeking ’above all a legal and fiscal stability,’ and that this stability is absent in Switzerland.

However the current problems affecting international companies based in Switzerland go beyond potentially shifting tax structures –which well-paid accountants have always been able to navigate– and overlap with the current problems facing almost every other Swiss citizen: and these problems, extensive in nature, will require a major change in direction of Switzerland’s currently mismanaged foreign policy and economy.

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Tags: BNS, France, Geneva, Germany, housing, immigration workers, Italy, lake leman, lifetime employment, Montreux, prices, property owners, region, resident foreigners, rices in property prices and rent, rising, Romandie, Salaries, Schwytz, seeking jobs, switzerland, trend, urban centers, wave of immigration, Zug

Rising Immigration Causes Rents to Rise in Geneva

Posted on 13 December 2009 by Sprecher

geneva_housingHousing prices across the entire lake leman region, from Geneva to Montreux, are rising eith the influx of foreigners seeking work in the Romandie area. Higher unemployment in neighboring France, Italy, and Germany have resulted in substantial increases immigration of workers seeking jobs in Switzerland. The National Bank of Switzerland (BNS) recently published a study of the trend, linking the wave of immigration to rising property prices and rents. The BNS is one of many government organs or agencies whose federal workers have lifetime employment with indexed salaries.

According to a report by Wuest & Partner, over the past 3 years, rents have risen by more than 10% in Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich. Across all of Switzerland renters appear to have been the most penalized by the trend of rising property prices. In Switzerland only one third of households are property owners.

Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey, Aigle, Zurich and Lugano are among the 10 regions with the strongest rise in the number of resident foreigners. According to the OFS (the federal bureau of statistics) the trend has accentuated steadily over the past 4 years, with 2008 the year with the largest wave of immigration since statistics were collected. The immigrants came mainly from neighboring European countries.

The BNS however refrained from venturing a precise quantitative relation between the flux of new immigrant workers and the extent of the rise in rents. Rather, they limited their conclusions to anodyne observations on the ineluctable relationship between supply and demand.

The Europeans who have moved to Switzerland over the past several years have occasionally chosen to purchase their lodgings, in which case their purchases have influenced the rising prices of small multifamily houses or villas or apartments.

A percentage of the new immigrants do not seek residence in the urban centers but rather in small tax shelter cantons like Schwytz or Zug. There has been a substantial rise in the already high property prices in Zug resulting from the phenomenon of European immigrants seeking fiscally advantageous domiciles. It has forced a substantial number of indigenous residents out of the town because of the rising prices.

According to the BAK in Basel, the property shortfall in the affected areas will result in a drop of roughly 20% in available properties for purchase or rent, causing further rises in property prices and rents.

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Tags: bank jobs switzerland, cointrin office building, finance jobs geneva, financial careers hsbc, hsbc, jobs at HSBC, jobs in geneva, jobs in switzerland, l'oreal, polo ralph lauren, procter & Gamble, spg intercity

HSBC to move into new office complex at Geneva airport

Posted on 14 March 2009 by Mr Bureau

In Geneva, HSBC will be moving over 1000 of its employees to a new business center in Blandonnet near the Geneva Cointrin Airport, a new office complex which is expected to become an important concentration of jobs in the canton of Geneva.

Already several top brand name companies have set up offices there, among them Ralph Lauren, IBM, L’Oréal, and the TCS. HSBC will begin the big move next year. HSBC will thus be regrouping a total of 1300 jobs in the new complex. HSBC employs more than 2000 staff in Switzerland, of which approximately 1550 are located in Geneva.

One of the directors of HSBC Switzerland, Claude Brodard, remarked that every year, HSBC Switzerland has added between 150 and 200 new professional jobs. In 2008, which was a bad year for most, HSBC Switzerland grew by 17% over 2007.

HSBC Bank Switzerland to move in 2010Currently HSBC is spread out over 12 different sites in Geneva: there are 530 employees in the offices on rue de Lausanne, 210 more in the HSBC building on rue Montbrillant, 160 additional employees in the stately offices on quai General Guisan which look out over the lake, another 160 jobs are in the rue des Noirettes complex which also houses UBS, still another 140 jobs are located in the premises on quai Wilson on the Eaux Vives side of the lake, 130 workers are in other ‘main offices’ at rue Alfred Vincent, and finally another 300 employees are dispersed over offices at rue de la Synagogue, place Longemalle, quai Mont Blanc, rue du Rhone, and rue de la Navigation.

Pictet Bank had a similar problem years ago, which it solved by building a huge office complex in Acacias. Mirabaud also consolidated, regrouping all its jobs in one premises one Plainpalais.

Evidently, HSBC’s decision to move over a 1000 jobs to the new Blandonnet center near the airport has overjoyed the developers RI Realim, who had considerable difficulties filling it. The 30,000 square meter center is now headquarters for companies like Gillete, Procter & Gamble, Verisign, Bacardi, and some NGO’s.

The third building of the center – the one in which HSBC will move – has not yet been completed. Already 75% rented by its agent SPG Intercity, the new building housing HSBC will also be home to L’Oréal, which is regrouping 200 jobs there. Transocean – the American oil drilling firm—will be settling its career professional in the same building.

The new office center will house a total of 4500 workers, meaning Blandonnet will extend over more than 85,000 square meters. The center is putatively equipped with high tech cabling infrastructure, as well as modern central heating and ventilation, which means windows that don’t open.

Apparently HSBC HQ in London carefully studied the proposal, worried over the proximity of the huge oil storage drums nearby, one of which exploded in 2005, but they concluded that there was no danger. Beginning in mid 2010, HSBC’s staff will move to the new premises, which can accommodate up to 1270 employees. The Bank is said to have paid between CHF 500-600 the square meter for the new office space, which means a yearly rental price of roughly CHF 10 million, a lot of money for offices with windows you can’t open. The Bank expects to economize at least 10% in comparison with current costs attendant on 12 dispersed office locations.

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Jobs in Switzerland Demand Longer Commuting Time

Posted on 05 September 2008 by Mr Bureau

The lives of businessmen at work in Switzerland are no longer as simple as they once were. Between rushing to the airport, plane travel, long taxi rides, endless meetings and business lunches, career executives and businessmen in Switzerland must increasingly hunt for time to accomplish their basic daily tasks like reading their email, making phone calls and negotiating contracts.

According to analysts, the number of nomadic workers traveling internationally will rise from 800,000,000 currently to over a billion in 2011.

Switzerland has not escaped the trend toward increasing travel requirements in the workplace: the number of workers in Switzerland taking flights from Swiss airports has gone up roughly 10% between 2006 and 2007 to reach almost 16 million travelers. While a part of this traffic is simple tourism, the large part is comprised of business travelers.

The phenomenon of increasingly travel as a component of work in Switzerland has resulted in a greater levels of stress among the executives and professionals working in Switzerland. Specialized centers are cropping up to cater to the need among traveling workers to release this accumulated stress.

The Worldwide rent-an-office chain Regus has noted that businessmen are increasingly pressed to accomplish their tasks in increasingly unfavorable conditions. One common sign of this is the businessman with his laptop computer posed on his knees in the middle of an airport departure lounge or frenetic telephone calls made from rushing taxis.

The employment market in Switzerland is international, with Zurich, Geneva, Basel, and Lausanne home to many large multinational companies. Cities such as Geneva have been chosen as European or occasionally world headquarters by many Fortune 500 companies.

Despite the turmoil on global financial markets and the slowdown in the European economies, with the resulting increase in joblessness, Switzerland’s has economy has so far remained robust with very low unemployment and booming luxury industries, private banking, and technology sectors.

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Cost of Swiss Professionals Increases – Swiss Salaries Rise

Posted on 19 February 2008 by ThomasP

The average hourly cost of labor working in Switzerland increased over the period 2004 – 2006.

Swiss labor costs remain among the highest in Europe, however the strengthening of the Euro has offset the competitive disadvantage of work in Switzerland.

The average hourly wage paid for salaried employees working in Switzerland over the period 2004 – 2006 was CHF 53.90, according to the Federal Office of Statistics (OFS) in Berne.

The OFS emphasized that the progression in labor costs resulted predominantly from the increase in salaries and bonuses paid by Swiss-based companies for higher qualified professionals working in Switzerland and also resulting from the reduction in the effective working hours. The statistic therefore reflects the increasing specialization in the Swiss economy.

However this generalization skirts around large variations in the Salaries increasing in Switzerland

different branches of the Swiss economy. Employees in the sectors of insurance and banking are those costing the most to their employers, with an average remuneration of CHF 80.80 per hour. They present as well the most marked progression in compensation of work in Switzerland, with a rise of more than 12% over the past 2 years. At the Salaries increasing in Switzerlandother end of the scale, employers in the hotel and restaurant industries paid an average hourly wage of CHF 33.20 to their employees, which represents a rise of only 2.9% over 2004 and probably does not even offset the cost of living increases over that period. For clerical workers working in Switzerland, retail stores offered on average an hourly wage of CHF 46.45, an increase of 3.85%.

Between the extremes, teachers were among the better compensated, with an average hourly wage of 66.55%, ahead of public sector administration (CHF 63.85 / + 3%) and those working in the energy industries (CHF 63.15 / 4.15%). The sectors with the highest costs also have the highest demands for well-
qualified professionals working in Switzerland – unsurprisingly the high value-added sectors. In the construction industry, the average hourly salary is CHF 47.60 (+2.9%) and in the manufacturing industry CHF 52.25 (+3.6%).

Overall, it’s the financial services and banking sector which is pushing up the statistics. And the employees from the public sector did not really receive better increases workers in construction, and even less than teachers working in Switzerland.

In Switzerland, the average salary is composed of 83% remuneration directly received, 15% contributions for social security retirement and insurances (such as unemployment), and 1.6% other costs such as continuing education.

In order to compare Switzerland to the rest of Europe, these charges have to be converted into Euros. The OFS calculated that in 2006, the average hourly salary came out to be Euro 33.80, thus ahead of Sweden (Euro 32.15), Luxembourg (Euro 32), and France (Euro 30.30). Thanks to the strong rise of the Euro, the discrepancy between the costs of working in Switzerland and the surrounding EU countries was substantially reduced. It would appear that with respect to cost levels in 2002, Switzerland actually presents a cost reduction of roughly 1% due to exchange rate fluctuations.

Recent studies have called into question the linearity of remuneration and employee fidelity and motivation, indicating that relative status at the workplace is more importantthan absolute compensation in the minds of many professionals working in Switzerland.

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Full Employment Stresses Swiss Marketplace – Jobs for Specialists

Posted on 10 January 2008 by ThomasP

Large multinationals based in Switzerland are recruiting left and right. Numerous sectors are desperately seeking specialists.

Last year, prices of staples rose, oil skyrocketed, the American subprime crisis had financial repercussions in the banking and finance sector and the feeling in Europe was turning pessimistic.

Yet 2008 is kicking off to a strong start with the Swiss economy booming and indicators show it will continue to show strong growth with excessive demand for professional recruitment on the already stretched labor market. Attesting to the tight market jobs in Switzerland, the unemployment rate has sunk drastically and there are thousands of vacant posts for which companies are trying vainly to recruit qualified candidates.

A few examples : In the banking sector –and this in spite of the subprime crisis which has already cost CHF 15 and resulted in roughly 1500 jobs being axed—UBS is actually currently trying to recruit over 600 positions, essentially in portfolio management, Swiss economy booming - specialists needed

financial planning, client advising, and specialists (jurists, business developers, I.T., etc.).

The same is true at Credit Suisse where there are nearly 700 job openings. (Credit Suisse employs 20,000 people in Switzerland). The labor pool of qualified candidates has simply ‘dried up,’ according to many recruitment specialists in banking, finance, and I.T.

At Migros, there are 750 jobs openings, the highest number ever, and telecommunications giant Orange has job openings languishing for practically every type of profile –sales, logistics, I.T., marketing. Coop has nearly 150 job openings outstanding and ABB is seeking to recruit nearly 400 staff this year. Swisscom has 200+ job vacancies, Syngenta is trying to recruit over 200 new staff. 2007 was an exceptional year, with the employment market drawing in specialists from across Europe, but 2008 appears set to be even better for employees and an even worse Calvary for companies.

jobs in Switzerland - hot economy requires specialists

In the canton of Vaud, the chamber of commerce notes that more and more companies are being affected by increasing scarcity of qualified specialists. ‘It’s more and more difficult to find the professional staff we’re looking for,’ says the spokesman for ABB. Engineers, mechanics, electricians, watchmakers, portfolio managers, pharmaceutical specialists, financiers – there is a severe lack of specialists creating persistent job vacancies in Switzerland.

Enterprises are recruiting more and more abroad, particularly for high-level specialists and executives, according to the director of Adecco. Recruiters are making a lot of money, since they thrive in market conditions where qualified staff are rare and companies are desperate. In Zurich, the company MGF does much of its recruiting in Germany, France and Austria. According to a big headhunting firm in Geneva, there are many ads that get no responses at all.

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New Criminal Investigations of WIPO

Posted on 28 December 2007 by Gaffer

Still another criminal complaint has been filed against the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as a new scandal breaks over the international organization which forms an important part of the United Nations landscape in Geneva and employs over a thousand staff.

A while back (see our archives) the Organization suffered a scandal over its Director —Kamil Idriss— who was belatedly discovered to have exercised excessive creativity in his curriculum vitae and was forced to discretely retire.

Now Mr. Idriss’ colleagues are in prosecutor’s crosshairs concerning strange paractices in the medical service of the Organization.

The Geneva public prosecutor has been called in concerning a criminal complaint for “fraud, swindling, accomplice to fraud, falsifying documents, falsification of medical certificates” and a raft of other charges. The complaints target the chief of the medical service at Jobs at WIPO in Geneva to disappear

WIPO, a certain Doctor N., a physiotherapist (Madame S.) and the Belgian insurance company Vanbreda.

The plaintiffs have accused the Organization of a series of abuses tolerated and sometimes even encouraged by WIPO’s director. The plaintiffs have cited cases of persons who were never part of WIPO but who were able to obtain health care benefits and reimbursements thanks to Dr. N. A member of the Soudanese mission was thusly able to fraudulently receive health benefits by using the insurance number of an ex-employee (the ex-Director General of WIPO, Kamil Idriss, is Soudanese).

This practice has apparently been frequent, in view of the multiplicity and diversity of testimony.

The investigations and prosecutions will notably have to examine as Corruption at WIPO Geneva

well an alleged traffic in medicines and false prescriptions, as well as phony invoices. Plaintiffs discovered large quantities of products were ordered by an intermediary for the Medical Service of WIPO, without anyone’s knowing the final destination for the pharmaceuticals. In less polite circles, the term ‘drug trafficking’ tends to be employed.

Reached by phone recently, the chief of the Medical Service at WIPO claimed to be unaware of any complaint lodged against him or his service. He further claimed to the victim of bad rumors. “I have nothing to hide,” he added. “We doctors, we have an ethic and procedures. It’s very serious to make such allegations.” He went to add that he was extremely shocked to hear such unfounded accusations.

In their complaint, the WIPO employees repeat that N., who was previously working in Ferney-Voltaire (a French town bordering Geneva), was expelled from the local medical association for lapses in medical ethics, just before being fortuitously hired by WIPO’s then director Kamil Idriss.

In July, PWC noted other problems in a systemic audit of the organization, among them staff abuse of “flextime,” promotions and post reclassification based on length of service rather than merit, and the prevalence of managers who are not competent. WIPO employs over 1000 staff and has an attractive tower in downtown Geneva with a superb view of the lake and a top-floor restaurant. Job vacancies are routinely posted to their website at

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Piaget enlarges its Plant in Geneva

Posted on 30 November 2007 by Papessa

Built in 2001, Piaget is already enlarging its manufacturing plant in Plan-les-Ouates in Geneva, because its business is growing too fast. The current space cannot absorb the growth and an extension of an additional 850m2 is planned for summer 2008. This will no doubt translate into additional requirement for qualified staff across several hiring domains of luxury watch making.

In only 6 years the Piaget enterprise has grown considerably into a major manufacturing facility, according to Philippe Léopold-Metzger. Piaget is already a major employer in the Geneva area.

Piaget has ridden the wave of the boom in the emerging economies in which the nouveau riche have been purchasing luxury brands at an astounding pace.

Piaget is part of the Richemont group of brands and Richemont is experiencing a period of great profitability across all its brands. 2007 is shaping up to be an exceptional year for the company, which has work in switzerland luxury industries - extension to Piaget site

both luxury watch brands and jewelry brands.

Jewelry has become a veritable brand exercise, with companies already enjoying a legitimacy in this sector seeing their profits go through the roof.

This has proved a windfall for Piaget, which was already benefiting from the ebullient markets for luxury watches across the world.

Careers in SwitzerlandThe 5000m2 of space for thee Piaget Manufacture thus no longer can absorb the growth in staff resulting from the company’s expansion. There are already 360 staff working at the Geneva facility in Plan-les-Ouates and roughly 30 new jobs are created every year so far.

The new job profiles that will undoubtedly be sought once the extension is made next summer will be in the areas of product development, marketing, training, and technical fields in the production of watches and jewelry. The space additions will be largely attributed to office space (rather than workshop space).

The extension work has been going on for more than 3 months and coincides with another Piaget project going on at the rue du Rhone, where the company has its prestigious boutique. By spring time the Geneva boutique will be redone from top to bottom and furnished with an additional surface of 180m2 comprising notably a VIP salon. Piaget envisions also to install an audiovisual space retracing and displaying the creations of the over 40 trades encompassed by the Piaget company, employing thematic exhibits and presentation pieces from private collections.

Piaget’s spokesman says that in just a few years, their network of 51 boutiques has become an important source of growth.

Even the strong Euro seems to have had no effect on the growth of Switzerland luxury brands, and they continue to inundate the labor market with demands for top quality marketing, sales, branding, logistics, and technical professionals. Job seekers in such fields as watch making or jewel setting or branding strategy find a seller’s market for their skills on the Swiss job market.

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