Swiss banks groan under weight of assets

Swiss bank vaults are holding record assets Keystone

Assets administered in Switzerland shot up by more than a quarter last year, reaching SFr4.3 trillion ($3.3 trillion), ten times the gross domestic product.

This content was published on February 21, 2006 - 17:52

Statistics from the central bank revealed that Switzerland's financial centre is in robust health, and attracting record levels of foreign money.

The value of assets belonging to foreigners grew by 29.8 per cent to SFr2.6 trillion by the end of 2005, said the Swiss National Bank (SNB). Assets owned by domestic investors rose 20.3 per cent to SFr1.8 trillion.

The sums dwarf Switzerland's GDP of SFr433.36 billion.

Foreign customers now account for almost 60 per cent of assets administered by Swiss-based financial institutions, said the SNB in its monthly statistical bulletin for February 2006. This was 1.9 per cent more than in 2004 and also a new record for the country.

Institutional investors

Among those pouring money into assets looked after in Switzerland are institutional investors overseas, such as pension funds. Their holdings account for 55.5 per cent of those belonging to foreign customers, as compared with 49.6 per cent a year earlier.

The SNB started publishing monthly statistics of assets administered in Switzerland in 2000, when stock prices peaked. What is not clear is whether the recent increase is down to a recovery in the financial markets, or an influx of new money.

Money held in savings accounts and investment accounts rose 16 per cent to SFr1.2 billion, while fiduciaries handled SF389 billion worth of assets last year, a rise of 22 per cent.

Added together, Swiss banks handled SFr5.931 trillion last year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Assets administered by Swiss financial institutions: SFr4.3 trillion ($3.3 trillion) at the end of 2005.
Switzerland's GDP: SFr433.36 billion.
Assets owned by foreigners: SFr2.6 trillion by the end of 2005.
Domestically owned assets: SFr1.8 trillion.

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