Being Swiss is not always easy sailing. Practically every country on the planet whines about your bank-secrecy laws; you have been in a landlocked country in the middle of the continent for generations, yet you are not a European citizen; and when a crisis breaks out around the globe, everyone goes shopping for your currency, making it all powerful and taking the steam out of your export-based economy.
Whilst speaking at the Swiss Economic Forum in Interlaken recently, Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann called on the country’s business elite to “learn to live” with the strong franc and become more innovative. But the country has already made a name for itself in the field, and not only with its sixty technology parks and high-octane research institutions such as EPFL and ETH.
Swiss-made products and services still have clout in the market. Innovation in Swiss private banking in particular has become a survival tool. Yves Mirabaud represents the sixth generation at the helm of Geneva private bankers Mirabaud & Cie. – founded in 1819 – which he and five partners oversee. In our main article, he reflects on the state of Swiss banking over the past few years and tells us how his bank is adapting to new situations and taking the long view.
Along the same lines, Geneva-based tax and corporate attorney at law Dominique Christin goes deep into the concept of group requests, a form of fishing expedition that American authorities just love. He tells us that banking secrecy and international exchange of tax information is an area of law that has changed dramatically in Switzerland and globally over the last four years. With the exception of fraud, we have entered an era of tax transparency after decades of strict confidentiality.
As we approach this publication’s 20th anniversary, we have added new features and content that reflect our own search for innovation.
Danièle Megardon, a seasoned luxury expert, has undertaken to create our Business of Luxury section and investigates the intricacies and particularities of this county’s luxury market. To access this type of information, she, quite naturally, set out to pick the brains of a selected group of the field’s main players – the leaders of these organizations. As an extension to this theme, Swiss Style Magazine presents in a two-part series the shop fronts with a behind the scenes look at the plush centres of luxury that are Geneva’s Rue du Rhône and the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich. We investigate their historical and cultural backgrounds, the importance they play in local economy, the undisclosed luxury business challenges that companies face in these environments as well as the main luxury actors.
We also introduce Jonathan Hartop, owner of the Aston Riviera Cars Garage in Lausanne, who delves into the challenges that face those who have invested in luxury and collector’s automobiles. With over thirty years experience with brands such as Rolls Royce and Austin Martin, he will regularly give advice on matters from maintenance to dealing with services provided by specialized garages.
From a cultural point of view, AE Wilde presents Swiss-born international pianist Olivier Cavé, who studied at the Conservatory in Lausanne and who recently interpreted Bach at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice and the Menuhin Festival Gstaad.
This brings me to a final note: One of the few perks in my job is to be exposed to ideas for growth in Swiss Style’s own operations. Consequently, we have created Swiss Style Broadcast, a new audio-visual channel featuring interviews with visionary thinkers and Swiss and global worldclass leaders in industry and finance. Broadcast is conceived to complement rather than duplicate the articles in our magazine.
Please visit us at www.swissstyle.com/broadcast.
John François Béguin