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Opinion

Banking: New decade, similar problems

Welcome to the 2020s.

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How does the banking industry look as we enter a new decade? It’s worth taking a look back at the one that just finished before we do that.

January 2010 was still the worst of times for banking. It’s easy to forget now that, two years after the onset of the global financial crisis, the entire concept of the industry seemed to be at risk. Europe had caught the crisis bug later than the US and its banks eventually suffered much more. Those were extraordinary times.

Thankfully the worst is now behind us, but as 2020 dawns there remain serious challenges to nearly all banks, as well as some still extraordinary episodes.

Here’s one that sticks out: at the end of 2019, Euromoney was talking to a senior Swiss private banker. Switzerland has been struggling with negative rates for some time now and banks have started charging their higher net-worth customers for holding deposits. In uncertain markets, clients aren’t that keen to put their money to work. 

So, what’s the best investment in this environment? Cash. 

A lot of rich Swiss people are moving their money into banknotes and, if not quite hiding them under the mattress, at least not putting them anywhere near a bank that wants to charge for having money on deposit.


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