Swiss banking sector continues to shrink but survivors profitable

bank with swiss flag

More banks turned a profit last year than in 2016


Switzerland lost a total of nine banks in 2017 bringing the total to 253. Around 20 years ago the country boasted more than 400 banks.

According to the annual “Banks in Switzerland” report released by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) on Thursday, only one foreign bank opened a Swiss branch last year. The number of people working for banks also declined. Staff numbers in Switzerland fell by 7.7% to 93,554 full-time equivalents (FTEs). Swiss bank employees abroad also declined: 13.4% drop to 16,858 FTEs. This resulted in an overall decline of some 9%, to 110,413 FTE posts.

More profits

The vast majority of the 253 remaining banks generated a profit last year. Only 24 banks posted a loss. The aggregated profit of the 229 profitable institutions amounted to CHF 10.3 billion ($10.32 billion). The banks in the red posted a combined loss of 0.5 billion. The net profit of all banks thus totalled CHF 9.8 billion compared to CHF7.9 billion in 2016. According to the SNB, this is mainly due to the fact that the loss-making banks made fewer losses last year. In 2016, 35 institutions had reported an aggregate loss of CHF3.3 billion Swiss francs.

The mortgage market was up, with Swiss account receivables increasing by 2.7% to CHF974.7 billion. On the other hand, customer deposits rose only slightly (+1%) to CHF1,788.1 billion.