Two years ago, Credit Suisse decided it needed to beef up its private banking business. But it chose to look outside of Zurich, the traditional hub for servicing Europe's barons and billionaires. Instead, the bank doubled the size of its Singapore private banking staff. "Singapore is one of the growth markets in private banking," says Martin Somogyi, a Credit Suisse spokesman. And Switzerland itself, it seems, is not. Indeed, Singapore is now Credit Suisse's largest private banking center outside Switzerland.
Credit Suisse is not alone. These are hard times for almost all Swiss bankers, at least in their home country. Industry observers say the Swiss market is saturated with too many banks chasing too few Swiss francs. Worse, banks in Switzerland, a holdout that never joined the European Union, are facing constant demands for more disclosure concerning their non-Swiss clients and for heightened cooperation in making sure European account holders pay taxes on some of their Swiss earnings. The Swiss government and the EU are working out the last details of a new agreement that will require banks to withhold tax payments on offshore interest income and send them to clients' home tax authorities....."
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