Saturday, 18 May 2024

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Wealthy Nordics are fleeing to Zurich due to high wealth taxes—and Sweden’s largest bank is following

Wealthy Nordics are fleeing to Zurich due to high wealth taxes—and Sweden's largest bank is following

Sweden’s largest bank by market value, SEB AB, is opening an office in Zurich to cater to wealthy expatriates from the Nordic region.

The first Swedish bank to set up shop in Switzerland, SEB follows a raft of Norwegian rivals that are flocking to the country in the footsteps of their rich countrymen, many of whom have left their homeland following changes to taxes on wealth.

As a first step, SEB will open a company offering non-financial services to family offices and business families who reside in Switzerland. That entails, for example, helping clients find a bookkeeper or lawyer or renting them meeting rooms and offices, the Stockholm-based lender said on Thursday. 

After it wins approval from the Swiss regulator, the bank plans to establish a representative office that can promote financial services provided by SEB’s unit in Germany to corporate and institutional clients and by its Luxembourg branch to private wealth management and family office customers.

“There are many Nordic business families residing in Switzerland and the number has increased in recent years,” William Paus, head of SEB’s Private Wealth Management & Family Office division, said in a statement. “This is in line with our strategy, which is to be close to clients.”

The bank plans to open the service company this autumn with two or three employees. The model could be replicated in other markets in the future, he said.

Norway’s largest lender, DNB Bank ASA, last month said it plans to hire two Norwegian-speaking employees for a new representative office in Zurich, with a focus on private banking services. Investment bank Arctic Securities AS is also expanding to the largest Swiss city, hoping to boost its high-yield debt business, and ABG Sundal Collier has established a subsidiary in Lucerne, primarily for corporate finance clients.

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