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Brain drain Swiss companies leaking executives abroad

A truck leaves an Ammann Group site

The Ammann Group is one of many Swiss companies to recently announce it will be moving jobs abroad


Multinational companies based in Switzerland are increasingly moving experienced executives abroad to run production sites in lower-cost countries, according to a jobs placement company. The trend has been blamed on regulatory uncertainty in the Swiss marketplace.

There have been concerns at Swiss companies moving production sites abroad to escape high costs, which have been exacerbated by the strong franc in recent years. Those fears have so far centred on the threat to blue collar worker jobs in Switzerland.

But career advisory firm von Rundstedtexternal link now says it is seeing more and more managerial posts being transferred abroad.

“For the past ten years we have talked about the production in Switzerland being in danger,” von Rundstedt boss Pascal Scheiwiller told Swiss public television, SRF. “In the past four or five years this has affected highly qualified workers. What is now new is that this also affects executives.”

Companies are re-posting executives to lower-cost countries, not just in eastern Europe but also to France, Germany and Britain where wages are high, but not so steep as in Switzerland. The von Rundstedt report contains no statistical data, but the company says it is experiencing the trend from contact with clients.


The blame for this phenomenon has also shifted from the strong franc to the issue of regulatory and tax uncertainty for Swiss-based companies. The Swiss corporate world has been shaken by a series of recent referendums that have been perceived as business unfriendly.

This includes the 2014 initiative to restrict the number of migrant workers to Switzerland and the forthcoming vote on imposing rules to force firms to behave responsibly abroad. In addition, voters last year rejected plans to reform Switzerland’s corporate tax system, which left companies unsure of how they will be levied in future.

“These are all factors that create uncertainty for companies about whether to stay in Switzerland,” Scheiwiller said.

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