Strategy

Standard Chartered To Sell Swiss Private Bank, Not Quitting Switzerland

Stephen Little Reporter London 13 February 2014

Standard Chartered To Sell Swiss Private Bank, Not Quitting Switzerland

Standard Chartered is looking to sell its private bank in Switzerland as part of its plans to reduce several of its non-core businesses.

UK-listed Standard Chartered is looking to sell its private bank in Switzerland as part of its plans to reduce several of its non-core businesses as it sharpens its focus on trade and the creation of wealth across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

As part of its strategy unveiled in November, the bank, which earns the vast majority of its revenues in regions such as Asia, said it was selling or shutting small peripheral businesses outside of its core markets as it looked to deploy capital more effectively.

A spokesperson told this publication that while Standard Chartered is looking to sell its Swiss private bank, it will continue to run a commercial bank in Switzerland. Wealthy clients that use the Swiss operation will be able to use similar private banking operations in other parts of the world, the spokesperson said.

"Following a comprehensive review of its private bank booking centre in Switzerland, Standard Chartered has decided to discontinue its private bank booking centre in Geneva and consolidate the advice and servicing of its Swiss booked clients into London, Jersey, Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong booking centres," the bank said.

The move comes amid a global crackdown on tax evasion that is putting huge pressure on Switzerland's private banking industry. As a result of weakening bank secrecy laws and heightened regulation, many players are now looking to consolidate and streamline their businesses as they seek to cope in the new business environment.

According to the Association of Foreign Banks in Switzerland, from the start of 2012 to the end of May 2013, the number of foreign-owned private banks operating in Switzerland declined from 145 to 129 due to the roll-back of bank secrecy regulations. Meanwhile, over the preceding five years, foreign banks' assets under management fell 25 per cent to SFr870.7 billion ($973.8 billion), due to their clients paying taxes or withdrawing money.

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