The financial sector faces new challenges and opportunities

Switzerland’s strong commitment to the environment and its globally leading financial centre with pioneering companies in the area of sustainable finance provide favourable preconditions for the transition to a resource-conserving and future-proof economy.

The transition to a resource-conserving economy is accompanied by high funding requirements.  At the same time, new business opportunities are opening up for the financial sector and its actors, e.g. banks, institutional investors, asset managers and insurance companies, for example for innovation through new business models, for the development and marketing of new clean technologies (cleantech), and for environmentally-friendly infrastructure.

Sustainable investments still a niche phenomenon

Despite the strong growth in sustainable investments, their share of the total financial flows remains marginal. For example, in 2016 only around 7 percent of all managed assets in Switzerland took ecological, social and ethical criteria into account (Schweizer Marktbericht Nachhaltige Geldanlagen 2017). The aim is, if possible, to make all financial flows compatible with the climate and nature and in this way to promote resource-conserving and future-proof activities.

Switzerland’s financial sector

With a market share of around 25 percent and strong international links, Switzerland’s financial centre leads the field in the area of cross-border asset management (SIF 2017). At the end of 2015 the assets managed by banks in Switzerland totalled around CHF 6,600 billion (SBVg 2016). Along with the banks, the financial sector also includes the insurance companies. At the end of 2015 the capital investments of Swiss insurance companies totalled around CHF 565 billion. The 1,866 pension funds are also important actors in the Swiss financial centre: at the end of 2014 they had invested capital totalling CHF 777 billion (SIF 2017).

Potential for a long-term competitive advantage

Switzerland has around 220 companies and organisations that are involved in the field of sustainable finance. With its numerous experts and pioneers in the area of sustainable finance, it offers outstanding conditions for the development of innovative, sustainable financial products. Different sectoral associations make a major contribution to the visibility of sustainable finance within the financial sector, for example the association Swiss Sustainable Finance, which was established in 2014 and set itself the goal of strengthening  the position of Switzerland in the global marketplace for sustainable finance.

Switzerland also has a very strong track record in the area of the environment and sustainability. It is home to numerous international institutions active in the area of sustainability (GGKP, IPCC, ILO, IISD, UNCTAD, UNECE, UNEP FI, UNEP Inquiry, WEF, the WBCSD, WWF). All of these strengths combined create the potential for a long-term competitive advantage in the area of sustainable finance.

Last modification 30.11.2020

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