Sustainable finance is an important future market for banks. The demand for sustainable products is increasing. In order to strengthen Switzerland’s competitiveness in this market, the SBA has six points on its agenda.
- As part of its annual press conference, which is now held in the spring and independently of Bankers’ Day, the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) is today highlighting a solid Swiss financial center on which banks operate favorably.
- The world economy faces difficult times, marked by strong inflationary tendencies and the consequences of the war in Ukraine. The banks are resilient and they apply all the national and international rules and measures in force, including the sanction measures.
- Sustainable finance is an important future market for banks. The demand for sustainable products is increasing. In order to strengthen Switzerland’s competitiveness in this market, the SBA has six points on its agenda. Through appropriate self-regulation combined with other measures, the banks intend to make an effective and concrete contribution to achieving the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement, while laying the foundations for renewed growth.
Integrity and reputation, two essential assets for the Swiss financial center
The world economy faces difficult times, marked by a turning point in interest rates, inflationary trends and the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Switzerland, whose financial center displays its international vocation, is directly concerned. However, its banks show great stability and apply all the national and international rules and measures in force. “Banks in Switzerland rigorously apply national and international sanction measures. They have also been investing in compliance for many years”, emphasizes Marcel Rohner, President of the SBA. The SBA supports the continuous strengthening of compliance measures, but also of the system for combating money laundering. According to her, it is important to preserve the good reputation and integrity of Swiss banks and the Swiss financial center over the long term, both at home and abroad. Effective protection against cyber risks is crucial in this regard. In consultation with the authorities and other players in the sector, the SBA strives to improve cyber resilience in the financial market. The objective is to structure cooperation between financial institutions and the authorities, in order to strengthen prevention and ensure effective crisis management.
A six-point action plan for the “Sustainable Finance” market of the future
The Swiss financial center aims to be a leader in sustainable finance. The SBA is moving forward with implementing a concrete action plan:
- Free self-regulations: Through new self-regulations, the SBA aims to set a minimum standard for its members and to ensure excellent quality of advice, so as to strengthen competitiveness and credibility in this area. In concrete terms, the SBA formulates binding prescriptions for its members concerning the investment and financing advice process. With regard to the sustainability of financial products, the SBA adopts the binding transparency rules defined by the Asset Management Association Switzerland (AMAS) for its members.
- “Net-zero emissions” initiatives: the SBA considers “net-zero emissions” initiatives to be effective instruments for achieving climate objectives by 2050. The SBA recommends that its members join international “zero emissions” alliances net” as well as initiatives concerning sustainable development in the banking sector. The SBA has applied for supporter status under the Net-Zero Banking Alliance.
- Training: The SBA and the banks systematically integrate ESG skills in initial and continuous training. The SBA sets itself the goal that all client advisors have adequate knowledge of sustainability and use it in the advisory process.
Attractive framework conditions for a growing banking center
“Currently, banks in Switzerland are stable and developing well. After the “cleaning up” work that followed the financial crisis, after the implementation of major regulatory projects, the time has come for growth for the banking sector. For this growth to be sustainable, attractive framework conditions are needed,” says Marcel Rohner, President of the SBA. He adds: “Through our initiatives, we want to help ensure that intense competition and an enabling environment foster entrepreneurship and innovation. This is what made the strength of Switzerland and it is in this continuity that we want to register.” Concretely, in the context of the 2022 annual press conference, Marcel Rohner cites four major pillars of growth: competitive intensity, international competitiveness, resilience and the political framework. These four pillars are at the heart of the work of the ASB, which advocates clear objectives in these areas and defends the branch’s concrete demands towards the general public, political circles and the authorities.
Focus on the withholding tax reform
Even after the vote on the abolition of the emission stamp duty in February 2022, tax policy and specifically the reform of withholding tax remain at the top of the priorities. “Switzerland has many successful companies, many of which play in the top international league. But these companies today have the greatest difficulty in obtaining financing on the Swiss capital market, which leads them to look abroad. It would be much smarter for Swiss companies to be able to finance themselves in Switzerland,” notes Jörg Gasser, CEO of the SBA, before concluding: “This is why the reform of withholding tax is necessary. If Switzerland eliminates its fiscal handicaps, it will no longer give away its business potential abroad, it will exploit it itself.”