Banks belonging to retailers
like Migros have an
advantage when it comes
to collecting "big data"
As many as 40 Swiss private banks could disappear in the changing banking landscape, predicts a study released on Thursday. Banks that want to survive should concentrate on using “big data” to provide clients with individualised service and advice, it found.
The end of banking secrecy for customers in key foreign markets and
restrictions due to the financial crisis have turned the industry inside out,
said the study. The transformation process is still only in the beginning
stages and the challenges banks face are major – even existential.
The study, conducted by accountancy firm KPMG and the University of St Gallen, was based on a survey of nearly 50 private and cantonal banks.
Ninety percent of them believed that knowing the customers’ habits and preferences would make it easier for them to woo customers by offering
There is no time to lose, according to KPMG board member Philipp Rickert. Banks that take action can succeed in the future, despite, or perhaps
because of, stricter regulatory requirements, he said.
Retailers like Migros and Coop, which also have banking branches, have abundant experience in the collection of data related to customer behavior
and preferences, according to KPMG’s Hans Stamm. Retail banks like Postfinance or the cantonal banks also have an advantage.
With digitalisation, the role of customer service representative will be
redefined, said Stamm. In addition to wanting access to information around
the clock, bank customers want personal contact. The customer service agent will become a sort of “mini family officer” who knows his clients and takes time for them.
ZURICH: Switzerland's money laundering office received a record number of suspicious activity reports last year, in part due to increased vigilance from Swiss banks.
The Alpine nation has faced intense international pressure over bank secrecy, tax evasion and money laundering, most recently highlighted by allegations that the Swiss arm of HSBC had helped clients to dodge taxes.
The Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS) said on Tuesday that it received 1,753 reports of suspicious activity in 2014, up 24 percent on 2013 and the highest level since MROS was formed in 1998.
"One explanation for the rather surprisingly high level of reporting may be the increased reporting awareness of financial intermediaries, especially from the banking sector," MROS said in its annual report.
The total asset value of the activity in the reports topped 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.13 billion), with more than 85 percent of the reports coming from the banking sector.
MROS analyses reports on suspicious activity related to money laundering and forwards them to Swiss law enforcement agencies where necessary.
The office forwarded 72 percent of reports to prosecution authorities last year, 7 percent less than in 2013.
Leaked information detailing how HSBC's Swiss private bank allegedly helped wealthy clients to evade taxes has dragged Switzerland's chequered history of tax compliance and money laundering back into the public spotlight.
Swiss regulator FINMA had already investigated and criticised the bank in 2010/11 for its poor internal controls and violations of money laundering guidelines.
Geneva's public prosecutor searched HSBC's lakeside Swiss office in February after opening a criminal inquiry into allegations of aggravated money laundering.
UBS and Credit Suisse, Switzerland's two biggest banks, have also paid heavy penalties to settle tax evasion cases in the United States in recent years.
Switzerland is among a host of countries who have committed to a multilateral sharing of tax information in an agreement developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development ( OECD)