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Credit Suisse debacle has lowered job prospects in the Swiss financial sector

Two-thirds of bank employees in this country believe that the Swiss financial center has lost credibility following the disappearance of Credit Suisse as an independent bank. At the same time, however, 70 percent of respondents expect the "new" UBS to have a good chance of success. The survey participants take a hard line with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority Finma: 65 percent of respondents call for a more competent supervisory authority.

Two-thirds of bank employees believe the Swiss financial center has lost credibility following the disappearance of Credit Suisse as an independent bank. Image: Shutterstock

The dramatic events surrounding Credit Suisse (CS) have damaged the reputation of the banking profession in recent months. 75 percent of respondents are convinced of this. One in four bank employees (26 percent) is even of the opinion that the reputation of their profession has been damaged "for a long time to come". According to 44 percent of those surveyed, "real role models on the executive floors" are needed to improve the industry's reputation.

Best of all bad solutions

These are some of the findings from the 12th online survey on career prospects in the Swiss financial sector. The representative survey of a total of more than 1,100 employees in the financial sector was conducted this spring by the industry portal as well as the Swiss Finance Institute (SFI) and the Swiss PR agency Communicators.

The takeover of CS by UBS is considered by 38 percent of respondents to be the best of all bad solutions; 32 percent believe that CS should have been split up and only the systemically important parts saved. Survey participants disagree on the future of Credit Suisse: 46 percent of respondents call for a rapid integration of CS, while 49 percent are in favor of a spin-off of CS Switzerland.

Authorities remained inactive for too long

A full 67 percent of respondents believe that the Swiss financial center will lose credibility with the disappearance of Credit Suisse as an independent bank. Firstly, because the authorities have stood idly by for far too long; secondly, emergency law was applied; and thirdly, Switzerland does not have a consistent financial center strategy.

At the same time, 70 percent of those surveyed believe that the "new" UBS has a good chance of success. First, because it has an excellent competitive position; second, because it is well managed; and third, because it will be better regulated from now on.

Profession has lost its prestige

Compared over ten years, job prospects in the finance industry have gone through a rollercoaster ride. In 2013, just 2.8 percent of respondents rated the outlook as "very good" and 39.4 percent as "good," but by last year, these figures had risen to 11.5 percent ("very good") and 55.8 percent ("good"), respectively. After the recent events, the corresponding figures have dropped to 4.3 percent ("very good") and 36.5 percent ("good"), respectively. This means that a large part of the gain in reputation since the financial crisis of 2008 has disappeared within a very short time.

The requirements in the job are clear for most bankers: with advancing digitalization, IT skills (this was mentioned by 67.1 percent of all respondents) and the willingness to change continuously (59.5 percent) are important. It is interesting to note here that just two years ago, 71.5 percent of survey participants named willingness to change. In the increasingly complex professional world, specialized expertise also remains in high demand (50.5 percent). In the previous year, the figure was 50.8 percent.

Family office sector on the rise

The survey participants see the greatest career opportunities in the IT sector (59.4 percent of respondents), as well as in dealing with digital product innovations (57.4 percent) and in the Legal & Compliance division (46.5 percent). In addition, two other areas have risen in favor among employees; 37.7 percent of respondents said that the family office sector would offer great career opportunities in the coming years; and 36.9 percent see great potential in the area of "alternative investments."

By comparison, ten years ago, Legal & Compliance ranked first, with those surveyed at the time saying it offered the greatest career opportunities (75.2 percent), followed by Asset Management (51.0 percent) and Wealth Management/Private Banking (42.4 percent).

Biggest career holdbacks

The survey also looked at what factors hinder career development. With 44.8 percent (previous year: 43.3 percent) of mentions, relocations of business departments abroad ranked at the top. New business models in the areas of fintech and neobanks are the second biggest career retarders for traditional bank employees, with 40.1 percent (previous year: 40.3 percent). "Restrictions" due to stricter regulation come in third at 36.6 percent (42.4 percent in the previous year).

It is interesting to note that 25.6 percent of respondents see competition from expats as the biggest impediment to their careers. In the previous year, this figure was only 22.0 percent.

The survey results further reveal that just over one in five respondents (22.2 percent) did not receive a bonus for 2022, and for 24.8 percent it was the same as in 2021. As before, bonuses represent a substantial portion of annual income. It was 10-25 percent of annual salary for 38.5 percent of respondents, and as much as 25-50 percent for 22.9 percent.

Desire for further training on the rise

There is an above-average awareness of the importance of continuing education in the financial sector: 43.4 percent of respondents regularly attend topic-specific seminars, 38.0 percent attend public lectures and conferences; 23.1 percent of survey participants plan to attend a course at a university (MAS, DAS, CAS), and 24.0 percent want to continue their education with exam-free courses. With these figures, the trend toward increased continuing education has increased compared to the previous year.

"The survey results confirm our view that excellently qualified employees are a cornerstone of the sustainable success of our Swiss financial industry. The fact that we can make an important contribution to this, among other things with the SFI Master Classes and in the meantime more than 2,000 graduates, makes us proud," comments Markus Bürgi, Chief Financial and Operating Officer at SFI, on the survey results.

1,139 people took part in this year's survey, 75.6 percent of whom were men and 20.7 percent women; last year, women accounted for 17.9 percent. No information was provided by 3.7 percent of respondents. Of these, 10.9 percent were between 20 and 30 years old, 31.4 percent between 30 and 45, 46.7 percent between 45 and 60, and 11.0 percent over 60. Exactly 40.1 percent of respondents have a master's degree from a university and 10.9 percent have a master's degree from a university of applied sciences, while 10.6 percent have a Federal Advanced Federal Diploma. The survey has been conducted annually since 2012.

Published on 14. July 2023 by Alina Meletta