For years, the Swiss bank account was the standard for large corporations, wealthy families, and even government operations. It was often believed that anyone could walk into a Swiss private banking firm with a suitcase full of cash and setup a very secure and private account with no questions asked. Although this is somewhat of an exaggeration, there are decade-old laws that do allow a greater level of anonymity in Swiss banks.
The Swiss Banking Reputation
However, this security and privacy came at a price. Swiss banks also gained a reputation of being a breeding ground for tax evasion, money laundering, and harboring of ill-gotten cash. How many movies have featured the villain using a “unnamed Swiss bank account” to transfer his stolen cash? While these are greatly exaggerated flourishes, they are based on a seed of truth.
International banking has received much more scrutiny in the last decade. The world is paying more attention than ever to where money comes from, and where it goes. But Swiss private banking firms still have a lot to offer. Rea d on to find out if a Swiss account is right for you just how you can open one.
Opening a Swiss Bank Account
There are a few ways to open a Swiss bank account. There are pros and cons to each method, and some involve a lot of work that may not even culminate in the successful creation of an account. Make sure you are clear on what you are committing to and what the bank is promising before accepting to pay any fees that may be associated with opening a new account.
There are some banks that have branches in other countries – including the USA. Credit Suisse and UBS are two of the most well-known. It is easiest to open an account with one of these banks, but you will be sacrificing much of the privacy that offshore banks provide.
Opening an account with a Switzerland-based firm is more complex. You either have to physically take a trip to Switzerland – probably Zurich of one of the other major cities – or make arrangements for a bank’s agent to come to you. There may be hefty fees involved in this process.
For those truly concerned with secrecy and privacy, Swiss trust banking maybe a better fit. These private outfits operate outside the regulations of the normal banking industry. You place greater confidence in the company in return for greater security and privacy.
Trust banking works great for those who need to wire large amounts of cash on short-notice with very little paper work and red tape. This type of banking is usually more useful to large corporations that move large sums of money.