Post-Secrecy Switzerland Defends Wealth Crown as Rivals Catch Up

(Bloomberg) -- Switzerland defended its position as the world’s top wealth manager, though competitors including Hong Kong and the U.S. are quickly narrowing the gap after a crackdown on banking secrecy, according to Deloitte LLP.

“Swiss banks have done their homework in the last years, having been able to decrease costs and increase profit margins,” Daniel Kobler, head of private banking and wealth management for Deloitte in Switzerland, said in a report.

Switzerland managed about $1.8 trillion in off-shore wealth in 2017, retaining its position ahead of the U.K. The gap between the two countries has narrowed and Switzerland’s dominance has been waning since 2010, according to the report published on Friday.

Net new asset growth in 2017 fell 6 percent from the previous year, with the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, Singapore and Luxembourg posting growth.

Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS Group AG, Switzerland’s two biggest banks, have been focusing more on wealth management, while reducing the reliance on investment banking. The two banks, as well as Julius Baer Group Ltd. all posted positive inflows in 2017.

Switzerland also stole a top ranking from Luxembourg posting the highest gross margins among the major wealth centers at 93 basis points last year. Net margins reached No. 1 for for the first time in 2017 “driven by the focus of market players on cost reduction as well as the low interest environment and strong financial market performance.”

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