Geneva banking sector shrinks

Geneva’s banking sector has contracted over the past year, after a number of mergers, acquisitions and job cuts.

Compared to last year, the number of banks in the city dropped 5%, from 140 to 133, while the number of employees fell by 502, down from 20,625 last year to 20,123 at the end of June.

The findings come in a survey published by Genève Place Financière, a financial lobby group, which polled private banks and wealth managers in the city.

Bernard Droux, president of Genève Place Financière and a managing partner at Lombard Odier, told Bloomberg: “It’s partly the foreign banks and partly a result of mergers. There are also job losses at smaller independent asset managers with people exiting the market as costs increase.”

Some banking groups have relocated to other cantons, while others have streamlined operations. Lloyd’s Banking Group moved almost 300 staff, mainly in back office operations and asset management, from Geneva to Nyon in the canton of Vaud. UBP cut about 100 jobs as it integrated ABN Amro Bank’s Geneva unit.

As many as 1,000 job losses are expected at Julius Baer, as it integrates Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch wealth units outside the US, including a Geneva-based business, while moving some functions to Zurich.

The Genève Place Financière report found that most banks benefited from net inflows, mainly from foreign customers, helping to increase assets under management during the first half of the year.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of banks in Geneva expect the bilateral tax agreements signed with Germany, the UK and Austria to affect results over the next two years.

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