March 20 (Bloomberg) — Genevas private banks, money managers for the worlds rich since the French Revolution, may see their numbers shrink after Switzerland agreed to loosen bank secrecy for foreign clients.
By Dylan Griffiths
March 20 (Bloomberg) — Geneva’s private banks, money managers for the world’s rich since the French Revolution, may see their numbers shrink after Switzerland agreed to loosen bank secrecy for foreign clients.
Since the government first lifted secrecy rules on Feb. 18, the Geneva banks’ publicly traded rivals Julius Baer Holding AG, Bank Sarasin and EFG International AG lost at least 10 percent of stock market value. UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, the country’s largest banks, gained 1 percent and 14 percent in the period, and the KBW Bank Index of 24 U.S. banks rose 17 percent.
“The smaller players are under pressure,” said Peter Thorne, an analyst at Helvea Ltd. in London. “You will have to spend money to keep clients, and they don’t have the resources” relative to UBS and Credit Suisse, he said.
Switzerland’s March 13 decision to stop protecting foreign tax evaders will force banks to establish branches in countries where they have clients or risk losing them, according to a study published this week by Booz & Co. Geneva, still reeling from losses linked to Bernard Madoff, will be hard-hit because many of its 140 private banks lack the international offices that will help Zurich-based UBS and Credit Suisse retain clients.
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