Wednesday, September 3, 2014

PWC Report on the State of Swiss Private Banking, Including Impact of U.S. DOJ Program (9/3/14)

PWC has issued this report: Private Banking Switzerland: from Yesterday to the Day after Tomorrow:  Eight theses on Swiss Private Banking,  The summary page with the link to the report is here; the report itself is here.  The overall report exams some common statements about Swiss banks and analyses their accuracy.  

Thesis 4 on p. 12 of the Report is:

The fines paid as part of the US tax programme are a massive burden on the equity capital of Swiss private banks.
Some PWC comments from  the report:
Fig. 5 makes clear that the burden the US tax programme is expected to have on Swiss private banks does not threaten their existence. Of the 86 banks reviewed, 20 have not formed “Other provisions” for fiscal 2013 at all. At 36 banks, the new “Other provisions” corresponds to up to 2.5% of their equity capital. At 20 banks, the amounts are between 2.5% and 10% of their equity capital. They exceed a quarter of equity capital (31.0% and 50.8%) at only two banks. 
What we think 
The legal, audit and consultancy costs as well as fines as a result of the US tax programme will have an impact on the financial results of Swiss private banks but not overly burden most banks. In general, the amounts for “Other provisions” as a percentage of equity capital are low. However, Swiss private banks have likely been conservative in forming their provisions in order to avoid an implicit admission of guilt. As a result, the actual burden is expected to be clearly higher. However, the US tax programme will not trigger a wave of consolidation within the sector. Yet the costs of the US tax programme, which are set to be in the millions, could act as a “fuse” for the exit from the Swiss private banking business, particularly for smaller foreign banks that generally question the sense of private banking in Switzerland.


  1. Some of the banks that entered Category 2 are withdrawing from the program. An article mentioned Barclays and Banque Cantonale de Fribourg as two examples.

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