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Swiss banks say image is improving

The image of Swiss banks is improving within Switzerland after several poor years, according to a new survey. Mergers, job losses and closures led to falling popularity in past years, but the banks now appear to be on the rebound.

This content was published on November 10, 1999 - 17:37

The image of Swiss banks is improving within Switzerland after several poor years, according to a new survey. Mergers, job losses and closures led to falling popularity in past years, but the banks now appear to be on the rebound.

The banks’ approval rating among the Swiss population rose to 52 percent, according to the survey carried out on behalf of the Swiss Bankers’ Association. Only 15 percent still believe the banks have a bad or very bad image.

A total of 49 percent of those surveyed now reject the accusation that Swiss banks have contributed to Switzerland’s poor image abroad. Twenty-one percent still hold this to be true.

The negative image abroad was significantly influenced by the international debate over the fate of Holocaust-era dormant accounts held in Swiss banks.

This debate – which involved Swiss banks and leading politicians as well as Jewish interest groups in the United States -- also contributed to the banks‘ poor image domestically. Less than half of those polled over the past three years gave the banks good marks.

The negative image was also significantly influenced by a series of bank mergers and subsequent job losses – a development not seen in Switzerland in decades. Two-thirds of people taking part in the survey, which was released Wednesday, said the banks had sacrificed too many jobs.

The view that Swiss banks are doing too little to support small and medium-sized businesses is held by 57 percent of the population. Just over half those questioned said the banks have little interest in small clients. Both figures are the same as last year.

Nonetheless, Swiss people appear to accept and recognise the importance of the banks. Respondents said they considered the banks to be the driving force in the economy, ahead of the chemical and pharmaceuticals industry.

Four in every five Swiss recognise how important the banks are in paying taxes, and half those questioned added that it was necessary for the banks to make profits.

Client loyalty remains high in Switzerland: Seventy-three percent of Swiss consider their relations with their bank as good to very good. Only 5 percent have a negative attitude towards their own bank.

The regional and cantonal banks are among those most liked by their clients. According to the survey, the Reiffeisen and regional banks come out best, followed by cantonal banks and --much lower down on the popularity list -- the big banks.

From Staff and Wire reports

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