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Hard times Banks losing clout in Zurich, study reveals

UBS sign taped up

Banks have become mired in problems following the financial crisis a decade ago.


A new study sheds light on how hard the financial crisis hit Zurich’s banking sector, which lost thousands of jobs and subsequently saw its impact on the regional economy shrink.

Canton Zurich is Switzerland’s largest financial centre, accounting for 41% of the country’s finance jobs and 45% of economic output that the sector generates nationwide. But the 2007/2008 financial crisis has taken its toll, according to the report by BAK Economicsexternal link, which was commissioned by both the city and canton of Zurich.

The two big banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, shed 2,400 posts between 2008 and 2016. Foreign banks with branches in the region and the cantonal bank also reduced headcount. This was partially made up for by an increase in staff numbers at insurance firms, leaving the total number of financial sector jobs in the canton at 91,000 in 2017.

The economic contribution to the canton, both direct and indirectly by creating work for other sectors, such as IT, fell CHF5 billion ($5 billion) between 2007 and 2017. Banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions created CHF25.8 billion of “added value” to the canton’s economy in 2017 compared with CHF30.7 billion in 2007.

The financial sector still employs 10% of all workers in the canton and contributes 17% to the local economy, retaining its position as one of the most important industries. But the sector is no longer dominated by banks. Insurance firms and independent financial companies have been playing a more important role in the past ten years, the study shows.

The report’s authors believe banking in the canton bounced back to some extent last year. But the forecast for banking in the next couple of years is not so rosy, largely because UBS has announced it will move many back-office staff to other cantons.

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This content was published on August 30, 2018 12:44 PM

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