Swiss bank bounces back from losses

Credit Suisse bounced back into profit in the second quarter of 2016, earning 170 million Swiss francs ($172 million, 156 million euros), as it reported making progress on a major restructuring programme.

Swiss bank bounces back from losses
File photo: Emmanuel Dunand

Plunging client activity and difficult market conditions as well as writeoffs pushed Switzerland's second largest bank into a net loss of 302 million Swiss francs in the first quarter.
The second quarter net profit still represented an 84 percent drop from the same period last year as Credit Suisse shifts to focus on private banking and wealth management.
The bank pointed to progress in cutting costs, which were down six percent from the second quarter last year, while it improved its core capital buffer to 11.8 percent.
“We were able to improve our performance in the second quarter and to operate profitably in a volatile context,” said chief executive Tidjane Thiam.
He said markets were particularly challenging in June “in connection with the UK referendum on EU membership” but that their planning allowed for Credit Suisse to handle significantly increased trading volumes for its clients.
“We remain cautious in our outlook for the second half of 2016 in view of the uncertainty created by significant geopolitical and macro-economic concerns, reinforced a few weeks ago by the outcome of the UK referendum,” added Thiam.
Investors initially appeared to cheer the results, with shares in the banking giant rising after opening but they later slid into the red and were just over three percent lower in early afternoon trades.
“One of Thiam's priorities is to make the bank run more efficiently, and this is the first time we witness that his strategy is finally bearing fruit,” market analyst Andreas Ruhlmann, of IG Bank, said in an investors' note.
He said that, like other investment banks, Credit Suisse had benefited from higher trading volume on the days following the Brexit vote.
“This is a one-time event, and we would prefer to see rising profits in the Wealth Management business,” he added.

Meanwhile, on Friday Swiss banking rival UBS said second quarter net profits slid by 14 percent to 1.03 billion Swiss francs (953
million euros) as economic uncertainty hit its activities.
But Switzerland's largest bank managed to beat analysts' expectations, who told the Swiss AWP agency they had expected the lender to post a figure of around 730 million francs.

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Reader question: Can a foreign national obtain a loan in Switzerland and under what conditions?

When it comes to borrowing money from a Swiss bank, nationality may play a role in some cases, but not in others. This is what you should know about this process.

Reader question: Can a foreign national obtain a loan in Switzerland and under what conditions?
Getting a losn in Switzerland is subject to many conditions. Photo by Claudio Schwarz/Unsplash

Like almost everything in Switzerland, consumer loans are regulated by legislation, in this case the Consumer Credit Act.

It defines a loan as between 550 and 80,000 francs, “offered by commercial providers of financial services”. Lower or higher amounts are not subject to the Consumer Credit Act.

As is the case in many other countries, Swiss banks have strict criteria about who they lend money to. After all, no financial institution wants to deal with people who are not creditworthy.

Whether or not a foreign national can borrow money from a bank depends on their permanent place of residence and permit status.

As a rule, Swiss lenders don’t give loans to non-residents. So if you reside abroad, there is practically no chance that a bank in Switzerland will lend you money.

However, some financial institutions make exceptions for cross-border workers. If you fall under this category, you can use this interactive tool, select “ Permit G” under “Residence Permit” and see what, if any, options, there are.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What cross-border workers should know about taxation in Switzerland

If you are a foreign national but have a permanent residence status (Permit C), your chances of getting a loan are practically the same as those of Swiss citizens — provided, of course, that you meet all the requirements set by lenders (see below).

What about other permit holders?

If you have a B Permit, you might be approved for a loan, depending on how long you have had this permit — obviously, the longer the better.

However, “you may be offered a higher interest rate or a limited loan amount. This is because of the statistically higher probability that you will return to your home country. Some lenders require the loan to be repaid by the time the B permit expires”, according to consumer comparison site 

Holders of other, temporary or conditional permits are not accepted.

READ MORE: ‘A feeling of belonging’: What it’s like to become Swiss

What conditions — other than residence permit — should you fill to be considered for a loan?

You must be at least 18 years of age, though additional restrictions may apply to applicants under 25 — for instance, a higher interest rate or a limited loan amount. That’s because “lenders are generally more cautious with young applicants as their financial circumstances are usually less settled and the risk of default is deemed to be higher,” Comparis noted.

The same cautious approach applies to pensioners, especially those who have no regular income. The social security payments (AHV/AVS) do not count as income for the purpose of the loan.

There is also other eligibility criteria, based on employment status and salary. People with a regular income have a higher chance of obtaining a loan than those who are self-employed, temporarily employed, work on hourly basis or, logically, unemployed.

Other factors, including your existing debts, are also taken into account in the decision process.

Basically, lenders favour applicants with a stable income and good financial standing, in much the same way as supplemental health insurance carriers prefer young and healthy people.

Keep in mind that if your loan application is rejected, this will be recorded in the database of the  Central Office for Credit Information, making it more difficult, though not impossible, to get a loan in the future.

The same rules do not apply to American citizens

That’s because Swiss and European banks are subjected to US demands to disclose the assets of Americans overseas in order to prevent tax evasion.

As adherence to these requirements is a major headache for the banks and in some cases also violates their country’s privacy laws, financial institutions prefer not to deal with Americans at all, even those who are permanent residents.

If you are a US citizen who also has Swiss nationality, you may have an easier time of it, but could still face hurdles in obtaining loans and other banking services.

There is no immediate relief in sight, although many organisations representing Americans abroad are lobbying in Washington to change the existing legislation.