Five Best Private Wealth Management Banks in Switzerland in 2022

Updated January 3, 2022

What are the best banks in Switzerland? Before commenting further, it is worth saying that I have long been a critic of most traditional banks, compared to online firms.

I have previously written (relatively) negative reviews for RBC Wealth Management and how many UK banks have closed down the bank accounts of expats.

In these articles I have explained the huge negatives associated with the top banks.

These negatives include high and/or hidden fees, or a focus on their own funds and products, as is the case with my review of HSBC Expat.

For any questions, or if you are looking to invest as an expat in a better way than through the banks, you can contact me using this form, the WhatsApp function below or email (advice@adamfayed.com).

Introduction

Wealth Management is an investment advisory service that brings together other financial services to meet the needs of high net worth clients.

It is a consultative process in which the consultant gathers information about the client’s desires and develops an individual strategy using appropriate financial products and services.

A wealth management consultant or wealth manager is a type of financial advisor that uses the range of financial disciplines available, such as financial and investment advice, legal or estate planning, accounting and tax services, and retirement planning, to manage the wealth of a wealthy client for a fixed payment.

Wealth management is the most advanced form of investment advisor. A wealth advisor usually creates a specially designed investment strategy and plan for their clients to help them manage their assets.

Wealth managers typically target the very wealthy and may have experience in financial matters that affect the ultra-rich, such as avoiding inheritance tax. They often coordinate the services of different experts, for example, work with a lawyer or accountant on your behalf.

Is wealth management worth it?

The wealth manager should be able to help with all of your financial planning needs, including, for example, managing the tax consequences of business income and setting up a donor-recommended fund for your charitable contributions.

Financial planners may offer similar services to asset managers, but they often allow you to purchase services on a la carte basis. For example, if all you need is to help figure out how you will meet your retirement income needs, some financial planners will work with you to create a retirement income plan, and you pay solely for that service.

If you need help with real estate planning, specialized tax help, or investment advice, it might be worth getting professional help now to protect and preserve your assets for the future.

Advantages of wealth management

  • Wealth management is the key to retirement: Planning for retirement is one of the most important reasons that can be addressed with money management. With the ever-increasing cost of living, it is very difficult to bear the costs even after retirement. Pension alone is not enough to maintain a normal lifestyle.
  • This helps to draw up a financial plan: wealth management services help investors to form their corps prudently and systematically. Asset managers have skills to help them understand client needs and financial goals. They are taken into account when formulating financial strategies. Your capital manager spends a lot of time understanding your needs and helping you achieve as many financial goals as possible.
  • It helps to relieve financial stress: Wealth consultants deeply understand financial uncertainty. They are experienced in making important financial decisions for you if the need arises. Wealth consultants can help you manage your finances in the most challenging market conditions that can often lead to stress. They help you prioritize financial decisions based on a schedule. Your advisor takes all of your financial considerations into account when setting goals and also helps you organize your funds from time to time.
  • You can count on personalized services: Wealth managers understand that there is no one size fits all formula when it comes to wealth management. Thus, each individual client receives the personalized services of a dedicated asset manager. Your dedicated asset manager develops financial strategies tailored to your personal requirements. He serves as your financial advisor and confidant. You can contact your manager at any time and discuss your expectations with him as he tries to fulfill them, creating various strategies for creating wealth in the near and distant future.
  • They work in a relationship-based approach: your asset manager constantly thinks about your financial well-being, so when the need arises, they agree with you like a friend would. They are not interested in impressing you with financial jargon, but rather spend their time helping you navigate troubled financial waters. They also help you make more informed investment decisions. Wealth managers use this relationship-based approach whereby you can have a healthy exchange of ideas and views and formulate various financial strategies.

Banking in Switzerland

The Swiss have become the world leaders in private banking and asset management for individuals. Switzerland is known for its sophisticated and confidential banking services. Opening a bank account in Switzerland may be more difficult for non-residents; recent laws have changed the fundamentals of Swiss banking secrecy.

Banks and financial institutions play an important role in the Swiss economy. The Swiss franc is among the world’s most stable currencies. The two largest Swiss banks – UBS and Credit Suisse – are among the world’s leading banks.

Most Swiss banks are investment banks fully focused on wealth management. They usually cater to wealthy investors, but there are some opportunities for people with a more modest portfolio.

Why Swiss banks are better?

Historically, Swiss banking has offered:

  • confidentiality for investors;
  • often favorable tax situation;
  • very low corruption;
  • stable and strong economy

However, recent legislation designed to curb tax evasion and prevent international money laundering has eroded the secrecy of famous Swiss bankers, making the country not a tax haven but a financial haven.

With that being said, in this day and age, banking regulations are strict around the world.

So Switzerland isn’t superior to most other offshore jurisdictions these days.

Choosing where to invest

If you invest in a Swiss bank in Switzerland, it will comply with Swiss law. A branch of a Swiss bank in another country can comply with both Swiss and local laws.

Investment accounts with Swiss banks are available in several currencies, including Swiss francs, US dollars and euros. If you are planning to invest in Swiss francs, consider whether the costs of transferring and converting money will equalize any potential profit.

Restrictions on foreign investment in Switzerland

Swiss banks do not restrict foreign investment. However, they do their best to identify customers and make sure that the funds they accept are not derived from illegal activities. You may be asked to verify your identity and address, as well as your personal details and employment history, and most of this documentation will need to be verified.

The Swiss financial market is highly regulated. During the financial crisis, Swiss banks sometimes offer negative interest rates to foreign investors to protect the Swiss economy, which will reduce the return on investment during such periods.

But in this article, we will mainly be focused on wealth management banks in Switzerland, review them and talk about main features. The best banks that we found due to our researches were:

  • UBS 
  • Credit Suisse
  • Lombard Odier Private Bank
  • EFG International
  • Zurich Cantonal Bank
  1. UBS

The first bank on our list is UBS. I previously reviewed UBS in Monaco which is a different entity to the one in Switzerland, and UBS wealth management.

UBS came into existence in 1998 after the merger between Union Bank of Switzerland, founded in 1862, and Swiss Bank Corporation, established in 1872. It is the largest of the banks in Switzerland, with seven main offices around the world.

Headquartered in Zurich, the bank provides wealth management, asset management, and investment banking services. In 2019, UBS reported a total income of US$30 billion and total assets of US$978 billion.

It is one of the world’s largest global wealth managers. This company provides different financial advice and solutions to various clients worldwide, where UBS financial advisors have full access to numerous tools and researches.

The operational structure of UBS Wealth Management consists of four business divisions and a Group Functions, where each of them is specified in a concrete activity.

Smaller investors looking to open an account with UBS Wealth Management have several options. They can invest their money in UBS’s Managed Portfolio where the minimum account size can be as little as $ 5,000. 

The Managed Portfolio Program is a discretionary program, which means that your finance manager has full discretion to make investment decisions as they see fit.

Another option is the UBS Consulting Portfolio Program. Similar to the UBS managed portfolio, it is a discretionary program. However, it has a higher minimum account size of $ 10,000. It relies in part on an algorithm to continually adjust the asset allocation of your portfolio.

UBS also offers a range of non-discretionary programs in which the client makes all decisions. These include PACE Select with a $ 10,000 minimum account size and UBS Strategic Advisor with a $ 50,000 minimum account size. 

PACE is a program for mutual funds only, therefore investments made through the PACE account are limited to mutual funds. The UBS Strategic Advisor is more flexible, allowing you to invest in stocks, exchange traded funds (ETFs), fixed income securities and other asset classes.

UBS also offers programs for institutions and high-net-worth individuals through UBS Asset Management. Minimum account sizes under UBS Asset Management begin at $15 million. 

  1. Credit Suisse

Founded in 1856, Credit Suisse is one of the leading banks in Switzerland and is headquartered in Zurich. The bank’s four divisions include:

  • Investment Banking
  • Private Banking
  • Wealth Management
  • A Shared Services Group that provides marketing and support to the other three divisions

With a presence in 50 countries, Credit Suisse employs around 48,200 staff. The bank serves clients through three regionally focused divisions: Swiss Universal Bank, International Wealth Management, and Asia-Pacific. As of 2019, the bank’s total income was US$2.53 billion and total assets were US$858 billion.

All Credit Suisse individual clients have high net worth. Institutional clients include banking or savings institutions, investment companies, pooled investment vehicles, retirement and profit sharing plans, charitable organizations, government or local government agencies, other investment advisors, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds / foreign public institutions and corporations.

The firm does not specify a specific minimum account size, but claims it can set one. Given that all individual clients are classified as having high net worth, it is likely that a fairly high minimum would be required, probably at least $ 1 million.

Fees at Credit Suisse are generally based on a percentage of assets under management. The fee schedules depend on the strategy used. For QIS, the management fee will generally be between 0.50% and 1.50%.

For CIG strategies, the commission is from 0.20% to 0.75%, for commodity strategies – from 0.40% to 0.80%. See the firm’s brochure for complete timetables for all strategies.

The commission for outdated strategies ranges from 0.39% to 1.50%. The quantitative trading strategy provides for an annual management fee of 0.75% plus recurring costs.

  1. Lombard Odier Private Bank

The Lombard Odier Group is an independent Swiss banking group based in Geneva. Its operations are divided into three divisions: private banking (wealth management), asset management, and back-office and middle office services for other financial institutions. 

At the end of 2018, the bank reported outstanding balances managed through these three divisions totaling CHF 259 billion in assets managed, making it one of the largest players in the Swiss private banking sector.

Bank Lombard Odier is very active in asset management. Asset management is the main activity of the bank. The bank’s clients are individuals, companies, foundations or taxpayers at a fixed rate. 

The preservation and stable growth of wealth from generation to generation is the goal of the bank. The client business division is about investment solutions. There are over 300 experts worldwide who make the right decisions for the client and allocate assets accordingly.

The historical activities of the Lombard Odier Group have been managing wealth for a private client base (private banking). This transaction primarily covers the provision of asset management advice, financial investment, tax advice and estate planning. 

Capital management operations are mainly controlled in Geneva by Lombard Bank, Odier & Cie SA, as one of the companies owned by the holding company Lombard Odier Group. 

According to data for fiscal 2016, private banking operations totaled CHF 112 billion in outstanding assets from their Swiss and international clientele, with about 50% of the total outstanding amounts being managed by the Lombard Odier Group.

By the words of the bank wealth management isn’t just about building a portfolio. The bank takes a holistic, global, yet personalized approach to assessing the customer’s needs, which allows them to provide people with long-term, bespoke solutions.

There are no information about the minimum amount of investments and fee percentages, but the bank has tons of excellent reviews and glad customers.

  1. EFG International

Founded in 1995, EFG International is a subsidiary of EFG Bank European Financial Group. The bank offers private banking and asset management services and operates in 40 locations worldwide. Headquartered in Zurich, it currently employs 3,750 staff.

It operates through three main business segments:

  • Private Banking and Wealth Management
  • Asset Management
  • Investment and Wealth Solutions

EFG International’s Private Banking and Wealth Management segment is managed on a regional basis and is split into Continental Europe, Switzerland, the Americas, the United Kingdom, and Asia. As of 2019, the bank’s total income amounted to US$755.07 million and total assets reached US$44,257 million.

For individual clients the bank offers three main types of wealth solutions, which are the wealth planning, pension products and fund services. Let’s see each of them.

Wealth planning

The Wealth Planning team is at the heart of EFG’s private banking business. They specialize in providing advisory to help clients finding the proper way to manage liquidity events, develop estate planning, protect and manage succession of wealth, obtain asset protection in a multi-jurisdictional framework which has emphasized the need of specialist and cross-country know-how.

Working closely with clients, tax and legal advisors, they help to find tailored solutions to protect assets and properly plan transfers of wealth to the next generation. 

They are committed to help clients to take decisions that fit individual needs and are flexible enough to accommodate any changes of circumstances.

Pension products

EFG is committed to being at client’s side when it comes to making the most important financial decisions in life. The right choice of pension solutions is one example. EFG’s expert financial advice and a first-class range of pension products could make a huge difference to future.

Fund Services

EFG Fund Services recognizes the individuality of each fund, and their teams work closely with each client to build a detailed understanding of the needs of their fund and investors. They always seek to understand the particular requirements of each fund before developing an administration solution to fit its precise specifications.

They also offer an extensive range of administration and support options for investment funds, including:

  • Fund administration.
  • Domiciliation.
  • Transfer agent.
  • Paying agent.
  • Investor communications.
  • Fund accounting.
  • Net Asset Value reporting.
  • Governance and regulatory compliance.
  • Custodian services.
  • AIFMD-compliant depository services.
  • Listing capabilities on both the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and Channel Islands Securities Exchange.

There is also no additional information about any payments and fees, but in order you want to get to know with the financial details, you can contact them by the mentioned phone number on their website.

  1. Zurich Cantonal Bank

The last bank on our list is Zurich Cantonal Bank. Founded in 1870, the bank is the largest of the cantonal banks in Switzerland. Headquartered in Zurich, it provides savings accounts, central mortgage institution loans, investment management services, and professional financing advisory services to Swiss and German customers.

Zurich Cantonal Bank also offers international payments, letters of credit, documentary collection services, export finance, and bank guarantees. It operates through a network of approximately 81 branches and 348 ATMs throughout the country. In 2019, the bank posted a net income of US$60 billion and reported total assets of US$165.2 billion.

Under their brand – Swisscanto Invest by Zürcher Kantonalbank – asset management unit of Zürcher Kantonalbank offer institutional clients qualitatively superior investment and pension solutions with Swiss quality and reliability. Private individuals, companies or pension funds – they know the needs of their customers and provide them with the right products and services. 

ZKB products and services are designed for institutional and professional investors. They are a leading provider of core-satellite investment solutions in Switzerland. The bank’s clients value comprehensive product range and advisory expertise at every level of the investment process. A modular product range covers all the main asset classes and includes:

  • Funds
  • Mandates
  • Investment foundation

What do they stand for?

  • Investment competence and innovation: Global and innovative product and service offerings allows to access a customized investment solution according to needs.
  • Consistent service at a fair price: They stand for constant added value and stable performance at a fair price.
  • “100% Swiss production”: They are the largest asset manager, producing exclusively in Switzerland, incl. on-site support and sales – the bank team speaks your language
  • Security: As an asset manager of a strong AAA-rated bank, they guarantee security
  • Certified: as one of the several suppliers in Switzerland, they have an ISO 9001 certified management system

To conclude, it’s worth to double mention that Switzerland is one of the world’s foremost banking and financial centers with 266 banks as of 2019. The banking network is highly developed, and Swiss banks are among the world’s leaders in specialized fields such as private banking and asset management. 

The total assets of the Swiss banking system at the end of 2016 amounted to USD 6.8 trillion (Swiss francs 6.7 trillion) including assets managed by Swiss banks abroad.

If you are a citizen or a resident of Switzerland, don’t hesitate to benefit from Swiss private banks, which help you normalize your finances, which will allow insuring your financially satisfied life after retirement, or simply relieve stresses connected with finances. 

Wealth management has never been an unrated thing, many individuals, high-net-worth people come to this option to save their wealth with the help of professional and qualified private banks and their wealth managers.

Further Reading

The article below looks at taxes for expats in Switzerland.

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