Switzerland

Switzerland's culture is a rich tapestry woven from the threads of its diverse linguistic and cultural heritage. The country has four official languages, German, French, Italian, and Romansh, contributing to its vibrant blend of different traditions, customs, and cuisines. For family offices and investors, Switzerland offers endless opportunities to expand their businesses and thrive.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Evaluation categories

  • Tax regulations & incentives
  • Legal & regulatory structures
  • Economy & political climate
  • Services & talent access
  • Culture & lifestyle considerations
  • Resources

    Key numbers

    FAQ

    Switzerland
    Updated on June 13, 2024

    Introduction

    Europe’s land of milk and honey

     

    Nestled amidst the picturesque beauty of the Alps and the Jura mountains, Switzerland is a land of culture, diversity, and language. It shares its borders with Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east, making it a melting pot of varied cultures. Apart from German, French, and Italian, Rhaeto-Romanic is also an official language in Switzerland, adding to the cultural richness of the place.

     

    Switzerland is a federalist state and is divided into three political levels: The federal, the cantonal, and the municipal level. With 26 cantons, each having its sovereignty, the country thrives on a democratic system. Switzerland’s liberal economic system, political stability, and seamless integration with other countries’ economies make it an ideal business location. The country offers endless opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to flourish and expand their businesses.

    Notable: Neutrality key to stability

    Switzerland is renowned for its political neutrality, robust privacy laws, and one of the world’s most competitive and stable economies. Its tradition of banking secrecy, although adjusted in recent years to comply with global standards, still respects the privacy of investors. The country’s strategic location in the heart of Europe provides easy access to international markets, while its multilingual workforce caters to a global clientele.

    People to know

    martin stadler
    Partner & Strategic Advisor, Simple
    Martin Stadler

    Zürich, Switzerland

    laura hermann
    Strategy & Leadership
    Laura Hermann

    Switzerland

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    Evaluation categories

    1. Tax regulations & incentives

    Switzerland offers family offices a favourable tax environment with competitive corporate income tax rates and wealth tax exemptions for certain assets. The country does not levy federal inheritance or gift taxes, though some cantons impose their own. Special tax regimes, like lump-sum taxation, benefit high-net-worth individuals. Federal deductions, such as for charitable donations, further reduce tax liabilities. Switzerland's extensive tax treaty network helps avoid double taxation and aids in international tax planning. This favourable tax landscape, coupled with Switzerland's stability and financial sophistication, makes it an attractive location for family offices seeking to manage and grow their wealth.

    Switzerland levies a direct federal CIT at a flat rate of 8.5% on profit after tax. At the federal level, no corporate capital gains tax is leviedCompared to other European countries, Switzerland has a very competitive corporate income tax rate. Each canton has its own tax law, which levies cantonal and communal corporate income and capital taxes at different rates. Therefore, the tax burden of income (and capital) varies from canton to canton.

    Switzerland imposes a wealth tax on individuals and legal entities based on their worldwide net worth. However, some cantons offer exemptions or reductions for certain types of assets, such as business assets or real estate.

     

    Switzerland does not have a federal inheritance or gift tax, although some cantons impose their own taxes on these transactions. However, exemptions or reliefs are often available, especially for transfers within the family.

    Some cantons offer special tax regimes, such as lump-sum taxation for wealthy individuals and families. This allows individuals to pay tax based on their living expenses rather than their actual income and wealth, resulting in potentially lower tax liabilities.

    Switzerland allows for various federal tax deductions, such as deductions for charitable donations, which can help reduce the overall tax burden for family offices. In addition, Switzerland has a wide network of tax treaties with other countries, which can help avoid double taxation and provide additional tax planning opportunities for family offices with international operations.

    2. Legal & regulatory structures

    Switzerland's legal and regulatory framework is conducive to the establishment and operation of family offices. The country offers a variety of legal structures for family offices, including trusts, foundations, and companies. Swiss law provides a high degree of flexibility, confidentiality, and asset protection, making it an attractive jurisdiction for wealth management. Furthermore, Switzerland's regulatory environment is sophisticated yet pragmatic, ensuring that family offices can operate with efficience while adhering to high standards of compliance and governance.

    Family offices can be registered as single-family offices (SFOs) or multi-family offices (MFOs). SFOs function as private companies established to manage the wealth and affairs of a single wealthy family. It provides tailored financial and investment services, including wealth management, tax planning, and philanthropic activities. An MFO serves multiple wealthy families, pooling their resources to achieve economies of scale. MFOs offer a range of services similar to SFOs but are shared among several families. This structure can provide cost savings and access to specialised expertise.

    Family offices can set up a Private Trust Company (PTC) to function as a private company established to act as a trustee for one or more family trusts. A PTC allows families to retain control over their trust structures while benefiting from the flexibility and confidentiality of a corporate trustee. PTCs are often used by families with complex trust arrangements.

    Another option is establishing a Family Investment Company (FIC) to function as a private limited company. A FIC can hold and manage family assets, such as investments, property, and businesses. It offers tax advantages, asset protection, and flexibility in wealth transfer. FICs are governed by company law and can be customised to meet the family’s needs.

    Finally, and perhaps the most common is setting up a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), which is a partnership where the partners have limited liability, meaning they are not personally liable for the partnership’s debts. LLPs are often used for professional services and can be structured to accommodate multiple family members or external investors.

    3. Economic & political climate

    Switzerland is known for its exceptional economic and political stability, which makes it an ideal location for family offices. With a longstanding history of neutrality and resilience, Switzerland provides a secure environment for wealth management. The Swiss Franc is one of the strongest and most reliable currencies in the world, making it a trusted store of value. Additionally, Switzerland's commitment to innovation and competitiveness creates a thriving business landscape, while its stable political system and efficient administration make it a predictable and favourable destination for investment.

    Switzerland’s commitment to neutrality, guaranteed in its constitution, helps avoid political and economic turmoil. Its political stability, neutrality, strong democratic institutions, and respect for individual rights make it an attractive destination for family offices. Its federal structure promotes local autonomy and participation, which helps maintain stability during times of global uncertainty.

     

    The country’s direct democracy system fosters inclusivity and transparency, contributing to its reputation as a well-governed and stable country. Furthermore, Switzerland’s robust rule of law provides a reliable legal framework for business and investment. In conclusion, Switzerland’s political stability is a cornerstone of its appeal to family offices.

    Switzerland’s economic stability and strong international relationships benefit family offices significantly. Due to its neutrality, Switzerland is considered a safe haven for investments. Additionally, Switzerland’s favourable tax policies, regulatory environment, and highly skilled workforce make it a prime destination for family offices looking to establish a presence in Europe. All these factors contribute to Switzerland’s reputation as a leading global hub for wealth management and family office services.

    Switzerland, a country with a strong international orientation, has signed various free trade agreements over the years. These agreements have opened new markets for Swiss businesses, including family offices, to explore and expand their operations. As a result, family offices can now benefit from increased access to foreign markets, which can help them grow their assets and investments beyond the Swiss market.

     

    Additionally, these agreements often come with reduced tariffs, which can help family offices save costs on imports and exports. Hence, free trade agreements play a crucial role in creating new opportunities for family offices and helping them in achieving their long-term goals.

    4. Services & talent access

    Switzerland's reputation as a global financial hub is well-deserved, with a concentration of leading financial institutions offering a wide array of services tailored to the needs of family offices. Swiss financial institutions, from wealth management to bespoke financial planning, are known for their expertise, discretion, and stability. This rich ecosystem of financial services providers ensures that family offices in Switzerland have access to the best advice and solutions for their wealth management needs. Furthermore, Switzerland's education system and competitive labour market support its financial services sector. The country boasts a well-educated workforce with a strong emphasis on finance, law, and wealth management. This ensures a steady supply of highly qualified professionals who can provide the expertise needed to manage complex wealth structures for family offices.

    Switzerland’s status as a global financial hub is bolstered by its well-developed infrastructure, stable political environment, and commitment to financial innovation. The country is home to a wide range of financial institutions, including banks, asset managers, and insurance companies, all of which cater to the unique needs of family offices. Its strong regulatory framework and adherence to international standards ensure that family offices can operate with confidence in the country’s financial markets.

    Switzerland’s immigration policies are designed to attract skilled professionals from around the world, including those working in the financial services sector. The country offers various types of visas and permits for individuals looking to work or establish a business in Switzerland, making it easier for family offices to recruit talent from abroad. Switzerland’s openness to international talent ensures that family offices have access to a diverse and skilled workforce, enhancing their ability to effectively manage and grow their wealth.

    Switzerland’s education system is highly regarded for its emphasis on practical skills and vocational training. This results in a workforce that is not only well-educated but also highly skilled in areas relevant to the financial services sector, such as finance, law, and wealth management. This pool of talent ensures that family offices in Switzerland can easily find professionals with the expertise needed to manage their complex wealth structures.

    Switzerland’s workforce is not only highly skilled but also uniquely diverse, with a significant portion of its population being multilingual. The country has four official languages – German, French, Italian, and Romansh – reflecting its cultural and linguistic diversity. This multilingualism is a valuable asset for family offices, as it enables them to communicate effectively with clients, partners, and service providers from around the world. In addition to the official languages, English is widely spoken and used as a business language in Switzerland, particularly in the financial services sector.

    5 Culture & lifestyle considerations

    Switzerland is widely known for its exceptional quality of life, which offers a unique combination of natural beauty, cultural richness, and economic stability. The country's stunning landscapes, including the majestic Swiss Alps, crystal-clear lakes, and picturesque villages, provide an awe-inspiring backdrop for both residents and visitors alike. In addition to its natural beauty, Switzerland boasts a high standard of living, with clean and safe cities, excellent healthcare, and a well-developed education system. The country consistently ranks highly in global quality of life indexes, thanks to its strong economy, low crime rate, and impressive levels of personal safety and security.

    Switzerland’s culture is a rich tapestry woven from the threads of its diverse linguistic and cultural heritage. With four official languages – German, French, Italian, and Romansh – Swiss culture is a vibrant blend of different traditions, customs, and cuisines. This cultural diversity is reflected in Switzerland’s arts, literature, music, and culinary scene, offering a rich and varied cultural experience for residents and visitors alike. Family offices in Switzerland can benefit from this cultural richness by immersing themselves in the local culture, building relationships with Swiss communities, and gaining a deeper understanding of the country’s history and values.

    Switzerland’s natural beauty is world-renowned, with breathtaking landscapes that captivate the imagination. From the towering peaks of the Swiss Alps to the tranquil shores of its pristine lakes, Switzerland’s natural scenery is nothing short of spectacular. This natural beauty not only provides a stunning backdrop for daily life but also offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities, from hiking and skiing to boating and cycling. Family offices in Switzerland can benefit from this natural beauty by incorporating it into their lifestyle, promoting a healthy work-life balance, and enjoying the many benefits of living in such a picturesque environment.

    Switzerland is renowned for its exceptional quality of life, which reflects its unwavering commitment to providing its residents with a high standard of living. The country’s well-organized education system, high-quality healthcare facilities, and clean and safe cities all contribute to its consistently high rankings in quality of life surveys. Its low crime rate and robust economy further add to its appeal as a desirable place to reside. Family offices in Switzerland can benefit from this high quality of life by enjoying a safe and secure environment, accessing top-notch healthcare and education services, and experiencing a rich cultural and recreational life that is second to none.

    Service Providers

    WIZE Logo

    WIZE by TeamWork WIZE by TeamWork

    Switzerland
    Portfolio Management

    The Swiss all-in-one Wealth & Asset Management solution with an integrated portfolio management system including 200+ custodian automatic feeds for multi-asset consolidated reporting.

    Altoo, family office software, portfolio management software, consolidated reporting software

    Altoo Altoo

    Switzerland
    Consolidated Reporting

    The Altoo Wealth Platform provides simplicity and control to wealthy private individuals and family offices, by aggregating and monitoring wealth data in an intuitive way.

    Julius Baer, Swiss family office private bank

    Julius Baer

    Switzerland
    Private Bank

    Julius Baer, is a private banking corporation founded and based in Switzerland. Headquartered in Zürich The 130 year old bank prides itself on their highly personal service to UHNWIs along with a strong international focus.

    Family Offices

    1875 Finance

    1875 Finance is a leading independent wealth manager and multi-family office based in Switzerland.

    Eurotrust Family Office AG

    Eurotrust Family Office (Eurotrust) is a multi-family office based in Zurich, Switzerland. Established in 1991, the firm offers asset management, legal and tax advisory and succession planning services.

    LFG Family Office

    LFG Family Office is a multifamily office located in Lugano, Switzerland, that offers a wide range of services to families and individuals.

    Key numbers

    At a glance

    Evaluate key statistics to compare Switzerland with other regions

    Comparison Switzerland

    Henley Passport Index 2023 Rankings

    7

    Corporate Income Tax Rate

    8.5%

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    FAQ

    Q

    How many family offices are there in Switzerland?

    A
    As of 2023, it’s estimated that there are around 70 single-family offices and 400 multi-family offices based in Switzerland.
    Q

    What is the financial regulatory authority in Switzerland?

    A
    The financial regulatory authority in Switzerland is the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).
    Q

    What are some prominent family office industry events and conferences in Switzerland?

    A
    Switzerland hosts a number of family office industry events, including the World Family Office Forum, held annually in Montreux, the Zurich Family Office Forum, as well as the European Single Family Office Symposium.

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