Whenever you read about banking fraud or a high-profile financial scandal, there’s often a Swiss bank involved. TV and movies portray Swiss banks as bastions of security — shadowy fortresses where identities are obscured and privacy is prioritized above all else. Of course, real life isn’t quite so romantic. But there are reasons why the super-rich flock to Swiss bank accounts.
Read on to learn five reasons why the 1% prefer Swiss banks — and why you might want to try one, too.
Five interesting facts about Swiss banks.
Swiss banks won’t reveal your identity.
Their reputation for privacy isn’t all smoke and mirrors. In Switzerland, it’s actually illegal for banks to identify their customers. If they hand over your name to an investigator or a foreign government (without significant legal cause), the Swiss government can prosecute them for it.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If there is a case filed against you for drug trafficking, organized crime or insider trading, even Swiss banks will talk. But in normal circumstances, nobody will ever know that your Swiss bank account exists.
If anything happens to your account, you’ll be fully compensated — no questions asked.
In the unfortunate event of a natural calamity or fire, your money will be safe and returned in full. That’s because the Swiss Banker’s Association guarantees the security of their every affiliated bank account.
They’re backed by the safest currency in the world.
The Swiss Franc is one of the safest currencies in the world. There is virtually zero inflation with this currency.
Why is the Franc so steady? Well, most modern currency exists digitally and in the collective consciousness of its users. The Swiss Franc, on the other hand, is backed up by at least 40% in gold reserves at all times.
Backed up by a rock-solid economy
And it’s not just the Franc that’s steady. The entire country of Switzerland has a relatively rock solid economy. In other words, international economic strife rarely has any impact on the Swiss economy. This is one place you can literally bet your money on!
Swiss banks are not just for the wealthy
Most people think that only the super-wealthy can afford a Swiss bank account. But that’s a common misconception! If you are 18 years of age or older and you have a valid passport, you can probably open an account at a Swiss bank.
Sure, some banks have additional requirements, including proof of income and a minimum deposit. And yes, at certain elite Swiss banks, that minimum deposit can be as high as $100,000. But others have a minimum as low as $10,000 — a figure that most of us will see in our lifetime. And at a Swiss bank, you can be 100% sure that your savings are safe.
That said, Swiss banks often charge higher maintenance fees to go with their higher security. You should read about all of their fees and weigh the costs and benefits before moving your life savings over to Switzerland.
And keep in mind that many Swiss banks do not serve U.S. customers at all. Your odds are better at a private bank, but private banks also tend to have more rigorous requirements for their applicants.
Which are the top Swiss bank accounts out there?
Are you looking to open an account at a Swiss bank? Many Swiss banks do not accept applicants from the U.S., but there are exceptions to this rule. If you want the security of a Swiss bank for your wealth management, here are your top contenders.
United Bank of Switzerland
Credit Suisse Group
A global leader in financial services, Credit Suisse Group advises its clients in all aspects of finance. They offer accounts both for individuals and businesses — you can apply for one and get more information here.
Credit Suisse Group also offers an Easy Package for startups, which lets your company to maintain an account for only 5 Francs (roughly $5) per month.
Bank Julius Baer
Bank Julius Baer is a private bank in Switzerland that caters to the extremely wealthy. Opening an account can be cumbersome and requires a good deal of paperwork, but their commitment to privacy, security, and long-term client relationships is unparalleled.
EFG International accepts both individual and business clients, and offers a suite of financial advisory, wealth management, and e-banking solutions. In the U.S., EFG International runs the subsidiary EFG Capital. To open an account, fill out a contact form with your request.
Opening an account at a Swiss bank can be complicated. But in these trying economic times, the unparalleled security of a Swiss bank may be worth jumping through a few hoops.
If you’re ineligible for a Swiss bank account (or if the cost outweighs the benefits), don’t worry. There are plenty of safe, secure, and affordable savings accounts closer to home. Read user reviews and compare top savings accounts side-by-side here.
In the pursuit of getting better with money management, personal finance and everything in between. These are my learnings along the way.