Niklaus Baumann, a partner in the Basle banking house of Baumann & Cie and president of the Swiss Private Bankers Association, has criticized the Swiss authorities for excessive regulation and the “growing perfectionism” of public officials that issue endless new rules, apparently to justify their existence.
In comments last week he said that the Swiss government had 40 projects in its regulatory pipeline that affected banks. “What the banks need – and the Swiss Bankers Association has made it clear to the Federal Banking Commission – is new management of the regulations and the progressive replacement of diverse measures by a coherent system,” he told a news conference on Thursday in Bern.
Baumann called for greater transparency in the process of devising new regulations; predicted that an over-regulated Swiss economy will stagnate; and warned that more consolidation in the private banking sector was in prospect. “Structural reform caused by over-regulation among smaller establishments is the last thing that we want for Swiss and foreign bank clients,” he said. “The small banks contribute in a decisive way to the efficiency of the Swiss economy. Structural change would be both irrational and damaging.”
Baumann also criticized the official tendency to know-tow to regulatory pressure from abroad. “The meekness with which Switzerland modifies its laws as rapidly as possible to conform to international norms and other standards also has perverse effects,” he said. “We always want to be the best.”
Baumann’s comments are being seen in Switzerland as a rebuttal of the claim by Jean-Baptiste Zufferey, vice-president of the Federal Banking Commission, that the Swiss banking industry is lightly regulated by comparison with industrial and commercial sectors, and with foreign jurisdictions.