Banking is one of the key sectors driving the thriving Swiss economy. The experience and track record of its financial sector as well as the discretion of its banks have long attracted the assets of wealthy individuals and families as well as institutional investors.
“The market remains buoyant,” says CEO Cédric Anker. “Despite the geopolitical uncertainty surrounding factors such as Brexit and the Trump presidency, the banking sector can be categorized as enthusiastic. Memories are short in the financial markets, which helps.”
Although Banque Cramer can trace its financial activities back over 300 years, its activities as a bank only commenced in 2003 with the granting of a banking licence from the Swiss Federal Banking Commission.
“Private banking has a long tradition in Switzerland, and the market is correspondingly mature,” adds Mr. Anker. “We count 265 competitors here in Switzerland. Some are large international banks, and others are small, private banks like us. There has been a noticeable trend towards mergers between some of the smaller actors in the market, a trend that we have also been a part of.”
Mr. Anker is referring to the 2009 acquisition of Banque de Patrimoines Privés Genève BPG SA, the November 2013 acquisition of Banque de Dépôts et de Gestion BDG in Lausanne and the merger with Valartis Bank AG and Valartis Wealth Management SA in 2014. Through these acquisitions, Banque Cramer has been able to increase its client assets under management to over five billion CHF.
“New regulations and fees as well as increased pressure on banks to maintain transparency have pushed up costs,” explains Mr. Anker. “That is why a certain critical mass must be achieved in order to maintain profitability and why the general consensus for some time has been that the market will consolidate even further. However, this has not so far been the case for two reasons. For one, American banking laws also apply to US citizens living abroad, which often complicates matters. For another, any undeclared accounts on the books of a bank being taken over become the responsibility of the acquiring bank, as well as the potential legal sanctions. This has often been an impediment to potential takeovers.”
However, new laws brought in to solve these problems are beginning to take effect. “I anticipate that the market will divide itself into the large, international and largely faceless banks with upwards of 100 billion CHF under management on the one side and smaller, more personalized private banks such as ours on the other,” says Mr. Anker. “That means we can play to our strengths as a provider of an individualized service.” Banque Cramer positions itself as a safe pair of hands with which to entrust the family assets.
“We operate according to a simple set of values that underpin our ability to deliver on the promises we make to customers,” explains Mr. Anker. “We operate on a human scale, focusing on building up relationships with customers that are based on personal contact and trust. We can be relied on to always work in the customer’s best interests, and we are competent. We are constantly upgrading our skills, leveraging whenever opportune on the open architecture, and place great emphasis on openness and transparency.”
Although it continues to target growth, Banque Cramer’s priority is retaining the personalized service for which it is known. “The close relationships we enjoy with clients as their family banker are what set us apart in the market,” says Mr. Anker. “My job is to work to streamline our procedures and reduce costs there so that we can continue to invest in the quality of our services and to offer the highest standards of front office support for our clients.”