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  1. Wealth
March 28, 2024

Geneva minnow is crowned best private bank in Switzerland

Wealth Management in Switzerland, by academics at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), analysed 67 private banks. Who came out on top?

By Stephanie Bridger-Linning

A lesser-known Geneva institution has been crowned the best private bank in Switzerland in a new academic study. 

Wealth Management in Switzerland, published this week by academics at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), used publicly available data to analyse 67 institutions across 12 metrics in four different categories: profitability, efficiency, capital adequacy, and growth. Authors Dr Christoph Künzle and Jonas Hefti hope the publication will improve transparency within a notoriously opaque industry.

[See also: Downfall of a banking giant: how Credit Suisse took its final tumble]

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The delay between data collection and publication is apparent in the inclusion of Credit Suisse. However, the survey still yields valuable takeaways. 

Künzle and Hefti note ‘smaller banks with AUM below CHF 20 billion, have emerged as the top performers in the study’. Indeed, all but one of the top 10 banks fall into this category. 

CBH (Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique) takes the overall top spot, followed by Privatbank Von Graffenried. The former is driven by its strong growth and capitalisation, while the latter benefits from high profitability. 

[See also: Staying the course: Nicolas Mirabaud on how the venerable Swiss family firm is adapting to the 21st century]

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In third place is US-headquartered Goldman Sachs – the only + CHF 20 billion bank in the top 13 – which has a well-established and highly-regarded private banking arm in Switzerland.

Other names in the top 10 include NBK, Axion Swiss Bank and Schroders. UBS, Julius Baer, Lombard Odier and Mirabaud are ranked 38th, 64th, 20th and 60th, respectively.

The findings of the study were first reported by Finews.com.

[See also: Spear’s Awards 2023: J.P. Morgan Private Bank is crowned Private Bank of the Year – International]

Künzle and Hefti observe that smaller banks excel in ‘leveraging their niche focus and operational agility to deliver superior results’. They continue: ‘Banks like CBH, Von Graffenried, and Goldman Sachs have distinguished themselves, showcasing the effectiveness of their strategies and operational excellence.’

The study also draws attention to the challenges presented by a rapidly evolving landscape, with technological advancements, shifting client expectations and regulatory changes among the major factors shaping the sector. 

It highlights digital transformation in particular as a ‘double-edged’ sword of progress. Benefits like improved client engagement, streamlined operations and opportunities to develop new service offerings can be offset by issues of costly implementation and ‘alignment with traditional and tested – sometimes centuries old – corporate values’. 

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