Top-notch school helps bankers anticipate challenges

UBS and Credit Suisse headquarters in Paradeplatz, Zurich

The Swiss Banking School in Zurich aims to keep the country's banking elite ahead of the game.

This content was published on December 21, 2001 minutes

Established in 1987 as a non-profit foundation, the school focuses exclusively on executive education and training. It was set up by five of the country's leading institutions: UBS, Credit Suisse, Bank Julius Bär, Bank Vontobel and Lombard Odier and Cie.

The administrative headquarters of the banking school are located in a small house near Zurich's main art museum. Most of the teaching takes place at the universities of Zurich or Geneva and students can also take advantage of long-distance teaching methods.

The Executive Programme caters to the needs of junior managers, while the Advanced Executive Programme targets those who have held significant managerial positions for 7 years or more.

In addition, there is an annual International Private Banking and Wealth Management Retreat. The next takes place in Interlaken next September.

The Swiss Banking School's faculty, which includes professionals from Switzerland, the United States, Belgium and Canada, has earned it the reputation as the country's leading centre for the training of executives in the financial sector.

The wide range of courses attracts participants from all over the world.

Vice presidents

"What is common is that they all rank as vice-president or above," explains Dr Harry Hürzeler, the dean of the school. "They bring with them a great amount of functional expertise and our aim is to broaden their experience and prepare them for wider management responsibility."

The globalisation of the world economy has encouraged the development of a financial sector that increases in complexity year by year. The Swiss Banking School aims to give executives a good theoretical and practical grounding to face new challenges.

This appears especially vital today as the banking world is broken down into more specialist disciplines.

"We believe it is very important for managers to be able to grow in their careers," says Hürzeler. "It is important for them to understand what people in other areas are thinking because they are more and more forced to collaborate with people with different skills."

Hürzeler is convinced that Switzerland maintains its leading position as a provider of financial services.

Swiss bankers

He says the Swiss banking industry is one of the most cost-efficient in the world with some of the lowest management fees and mortgage margins.

And he says the country's reputation for being soft on money laundering can no longer be justified.

"Switzerland is very strong in the area of compliance," says Hürzeler. "The Wolfsberg principles adopted by Swiss banks go beyond the legal requirements, and even in US Congressional hearings Switzerland has been cited as a model for the way it handles issues linked to drugs money or terrorist money."

The Swiss Banking School is also introducing a new international wealth management MBA. In partnership with five universities, including Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh in the United States, the course will cover issues arising from the financial world's growing internationalisation.

"The objective is to help bankers manage the future where clients are becoming more international and are expecting a service that is more globally-oriented."

The Swiss Banking School says the new course is unique in offering a tailored training programme to senior wealth managers.

And analysts expect wealth management to become an increasingly important area in banking with global individual wealth expected to almost double in the next few years.

With its reputation as a leading provider of financial services, Switzerland is well placed to take advantage of the development. And the Swiss Banking School aims to ensure the country's bankers are fully equipped to meet future demands.

by Michael Hollingdale

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