Wealthy giving Switzerland a miss to head for Dubai
So much for the famous Swiss bank account – Europe’s major moneymen are ditching their traditional alpine safe haven to put their money in Dubai.
That’s according to Swiss banking ‘trend spotter’ Jean-Luc Freymond, who says a combination of tougher Swiss banking laws and the simplicity of operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is seeing some big-hitters choose to move their money from snow to sand.
“The current offering of Swiss banks is not what people are looking for and there is a growing and maturing private business,” Freymond, CEO of Swiss financial software firm SAGE Group SA, told 7DAYS.
Switzerland, the world’s largest offshore financial centre, which holds more than $2 trillion worth of global wealth, has always been considered perfect for wealthy clients who value discretion.
However, in 2009, under considerable pressure from tax-paying nations, the country agreed to accept concessions on bank secrecy – saying it would only accept ‘declared assets’ into Swiss accounts. And according to Freymond, those wanting to legally avoid the taxman are instead choosing to move their money to Dubai.
“Contrary to what a lot of (Swiss) banks are saying officially, in reality they are finding different places for clients,” the SAGE Group SA boss said.
“One of the most interesting things is that money is now moving from traditional places like Switzerland to the Middle East – and especially Dubai.”
In a trend that is “new, less than a year old”, Freymond says “billions” of dollars that would have previously been headed for Switzerland – which is also famous for its clocks – is now safely stored in accounts in the UAE.
“It’s primarily European clients of countries who are signing (declared-asset) agreements with Switzerland. People who have sold their companies, or who are in industry, or also people who are from the entertainment or sports world,” he said.
Dubai may well soon be welcoming business from established Asian hubs too, according to Freymond.
“People fear Singapore’s going to be next on the (declared-asset) list because it has a very similar profile to Switzerland,” he said. And it’s not just money that’s moving from Switzerland to Dubai, according to the SAGE Group SA boss.
“Within the financial industry bankers – highly trained bankers – are moving from Switzerland to Dubai,” he said.