Both the U.S. and Switzerland have executive leaders (President) and the
legislative branch (parliament/congress) is a bicameral system.
Unlike the U.S. where citizens elect representatives as trustees to make informed
decisions, Switzerland is closer to a direct democracy where the Swiss citizens are
given rights to propose legislations.
In terms of personal banking and investments, USA and Switzerland have
regulatory bodies that have legal jurisdiction.
United States of America
Internal Revenue Service
FINMA (Swiss Financial Market
Securities and Exchange Commission
When it comes to the financial markets in Switzerland, FINMA protects creditors
and investors and their interests. It oversees the business practices and has
authority over exchanges of securities, banks and other investments.
In the USA there are two government agencies particularly important to the
banking industry. The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes for the central
government and has the ability to enforce Congress’ tax laws. The SEC overlooks
all aspects of securities including dealers, brokers, advisors and consultants.
Financial information that must be made public is reported to the SEC and made
available to players in this industry, allowing fair market activity.
Switzerland is one of the most stable countries in the world to the economic
The policy of the long-term monetary security and political stability has made
Switzerland a safe place to invest.
The privacy banking policy also attracts investor to deposit their money into
the Swiss bank in order to avoid taxes to their home country.
Switzerland is one the wealthiest countries in the world, The GDP per capita is
consider one of the highest in the world even exceed United States.
The major industries of Switzerland are banking, tourism and international
bureaucracy, these industries are less likely to have downturns also due to
the policy of the privacy banking
United States is the world s largest single national economy, it has the largest
nominal GDP with $16.62trillion in 2012 which occupied 1/4 of the nominal
United States also has the largest purchasing power parity in the world,
approximately 1/5 of the global total.
United States has maintained a stable GDP growth rate and a moderate
The GDP per capita in United State is very similar to the Switzerland; they are
both considering one of the top ten countries in the world.
Besides trading, United States is also one of the largest and most influential
financial markets. There are nearly 60% of the global currency reserves have
been invested in the US dollar and 24% have been invested in euro.
The Stock Market of the United States is also the largest of the world, the
foreign investment in the US total almost $2.4 trillion.
132 of 500 world s largest companies settle their headquarter in the United
States, Twice as much as any other country.
In Switzerland , the banking industry is one of the largest
components of their economy.
Whether it is retail, private, or corporate banking, Swiss banks are
associated with top notch service.
Economic and political stability have been trademarks of
Switzerland which has led people to feel safe and in avoidance of
risk when placing assets in Swiss accounts.
Through federal law, privacy of account information is requires
which also adds a sense of security for clients.
Unfortunately for the United States, the banking industry does not
have as great of a reputation as that of Switzerland.
Although the United States is a first world, developed nation as is
Switzerland, financial crisis has struck more than once.
The Unites States economy is comprised of many leading industries
and the world of finance/banking has more risk associated with it in
the U.S rather than in Switzerland.
According to the World Bank…
Patent applications in
science & tech
expenditure on R&D
$16.3 Billion (2008)
$415.2 Billion (2011)
The technology in banking/finance in both the USA and
Switzerland is rapidly changing as this industry becomes ever
Vital for cross border banking, like UBS’ operations between
Switzerland and USA, video banking creates an easy
communication line for financial consultants, analysts and
experts to advise clients.
Digital banking has also increased the experience for customers
in a fast paced world because financial information can be
accessed quicker than ever with internet and mobile banking.
Money can be transferred, deposited and withdrawn
internationally via mobile phone, tablet or computer.
USA and Switzerland are culturally similar and different in several
ways. According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions both USA and
Switzerland have low power distance as well as high masculinity.
People of these nations are open to questioning their superior and
do not follow orders blindly. In the work place there is less supervising
and decentralization of power is exhibited. Cultures that are high in
masculinity like the Americans and the Swiss, place value on things
like material gains, earnings, promotions, independence and
wealth. School systems and companies/organizations in the USA
and Switzerland push for high performance and achievement.
Both of these nations differ in their levels of individualism, uncertainty
avoidance and long term orientations. USA and Switzerland are very
individualistic countries in that their citizens tend to have concern for
only themselves and immediate family members. Switzerland and
USA base rewards on merit and achievement. USA is regarded as
one of the most individualistic countries in the world which is why
they score a 91 in this category on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions.
Switzerland has a moderately lower score because although they
are very individualistic like the USA, the collective does hold some
importance to the citizens and belonging to a group is more
common in Switzerland than the USA.
In terms of uncertainty avoidance, the USA is much less risk
adverse. US citizens are more willing to accept risk
although the consequences are unknown. Unlike the
people of USA, the Swiss are more careful with their
decisions as they prefer security and trust only experts with
decision making tasks.
Both the USA and Switzerland are short term oriented
cultures but like the cultural dimension of individualism, the
USA is regarded as a world leader in short term orientation.
There is little motivation to save for the future and quick
results are preferred. Trends and modifications in all fields
change rapidly and keeping up with the most recent
innovation or creation is socially valued.
When analyzing Trompenaar’s cultural dimensions, the
most relevant dimension in terms of business relations
between the USA and Switzerland is Achievement vs.
Ascription. The US and Switzerland are high achievement
cultures which means that status is directly correlated to
performance. Top performers are given top rewards and
those who work hard will pave their own path to success.
To put the UBS crisis simply, Swiss private bankers employed by UBS offered
services to rich U.S. clients which allowed them to evade U.S. taxes. When placing
assets in UBS Swiss bank accounts, U.S. clients neglected to claim their foreign
accounts on their tax forms and UBS banks/bankers did not provide information
about these off-shore accounts.
The Political and legal differences between U.S.A and Switzerland could have
caused this crisis because Switzerland had a banking privacy act that did not
allow them to disclose client information. FINMA did not regulate the UBS private
bankers because they may have not known about the taxes received by foreign
entities such as the IRS or SEC. Once the IRS and SEC realized the tax evasion
scheme they immediately investigated UBS and filed lawsuits to retrieve the taxes
owed. FINMA has changed operations for UBS after this crisis because they have
now imposed a regulation where UBS must inform FINMA of business initiatives in
Being that both U.S.A and Switzerland are culturally individualistic, masculine and
based on achievement, this crisis was exasperated. The U.S. Clients were easily
enticed by the idea of maintaining more wealth and assets through the schemes
provided by Swiss Bankers. UBS private bankers sought to gain recognition and
money as well by opening as many accounts as possible through illegal tactics. By
creating these off shore accounts in a foreign country, U.S. citizens proved their
tolerance of risk. Americans allowed their accounts and assets to be handled by
foreign bankers without regard for the legalities and consequences that could
arise in their home country.
FINMA. "Mandate." FINMA. FINMA, 2008. Web. 30 Sept. 2013.
Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede, Michael Minkov, Cultures and Organizations: Software of
the Mind. Revised and Expanded 3rd Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill USA, 2010
Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and
Organizations Across Nations. Second Edition, Thousand Oaks CA: Sage
"The Investor's Advocate:How the SEC Protects Investors, Maintains Market Integrity, and
Facilitates Capital Formation." How the SEC Protects Investors, Maintains Market Integrity,
and Facilitates Capital Formation (Securities and Exchange Commission). N.p., n.d.
Web. 30 Sept. 2013. <http://www.sec.gov/about/whatwedo.shtml>.
Perez, William. "The Internal Revenue Service." About.com Tax Planning: U.S. N.p., n.d. Web.
30 Sept. 2013. <http://taxes.about.com/od/internalrevenueservice/tp/internal- revenueservice.htm>.
PKF. "Doing Business in Switzerland." PKF, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.
Selvaggio, Leonard. "Banking Strategies." Leveraging Technology for 2012. N.p., 22 Feb. 2012.
Web. 29 Sept. 2013. <http://www.bai.org/bankingstrategies/operations-andtechnology/technology-and-information/leveraging-technology-for-2012>.
"TRADING ECONOMICS." TRADING ECONOMICS. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.
Turner, Giles. "How Much Does the Finma Action Really Matter to UBS?" The Source RSS. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2013. <http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2012/11/26/how-much-doesthe-finma-action-really-matter-to-ubs/>.