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10 Years’ On, HNW Americans Smile On Swiss Banks Again

Tom Burroughes

20 November 2018

The death of Swiss banking has been – apologies to Mark Twain – greatly exaggerated. Swiss bank secrecy is, at least as far as cross-border transfers are concerned, dead. But the country’s attractions haven’t faded for internationally-minded high net worth Americans, so a story suggests.

Over the weekend, the head of a subsidiary of , is quoted as telling Reuters.

His comments come after the Zurich-listed bank said it made a pre-tax profit of SFr932 million ($934.3 million) in the third quarter of 2018, rising by 3 per cent on a year earlier. Recurring net fee income and net interest income both rose from a year before on a new high for invested assets, with increased margins on deposits while transaction-based revenues fell on lower client activity. Adjusted operating costs rose, mainly because of spending on technology and regulatory-related expenses. The adjusted cost/income ratio was 75 per cent. This division logged SFr13.5 billion of net new money for the quarter. Total invested assets at the wealth arm stood at SFr2.392 billion at the end of September.

Perhaps one sign of how the American connection remains key for UBS is that it will, from the fourth quarter, begin to report its financial numbers in dollars.

Transatlantic bust-up
A decade ago, UBS settled civil and criminal charges with US authorities having been caught assisting wealthy Americans use offshore accounts. Since then, the US and Switzerland have drawn up a bilateral pact to crack down on such offshore accounts. Swiss financial firms have signed non-prosecution agreements with the US and paid fines. Globally, a raft of nations agreed to swap data to hunt tax cheats under what is called the continue to push for the US to move towards the residency-based tax code used by most major developed countries.