Events - 11.02.2014 - 00:00 

"This is about jobs"

Pierin Vincenz, CEO of Raiffeisen Switzerland and HSG alumnus, was one of the speakers at the first Eco East Symposium at the University of St.Gallen. His outlook on the future is favourable, but he admonishes the Swiss finance industry to remember its role and functions.


11 February 2014. The latest financial crisis has left its mark. It shook the financial system both at home and abroad and got numerous banks into trouble – or at least unsettled them a great deal. Many bankers were still ossified in the past, said Pierin Vincenz; he did not feel a sense of things improving again. Banks had thought for years that they would be able to develop without having to think of their customers. Many of them had lost their grip on reality. Now, Switzerland was not Singapore or Dubai, which could be considered to be financial centres almost in isolation. "Here, it is particularly also about jobs," said Vincenz. "We banks are part of the economy and of society." He appealed to them to become more strongly aware of this role again.

The times of black money are over

Banks and bankers would have to display a much more distinctive participation in economic and social life again. “80 per cent of what we offer are services for daily use, just like a baker or a plumber," said Vincenz. It was the banks' primary function to provide loans; it was as simple as that. And the future could only belong to clean money. Participation also meant regaining the trust and credibility that had suffered badly in most recent years – not only in the economy and in society but particularly also in politics.

"However, the financial industry has to be able to rely on politics," said Vincenz, "and on good relations with the world of politics in particular." After all, when it comes to international financial conflicts like that with the US, they would always be fought at a political level. He had a feeling that many people in Federal Berne were no longer able to understand the bankers. He called on Swiss banks and bankers to wake up from their ossification and to assume responsibility, to demonstrate self-confidence, to act out their strong points and to develop robust business models. "The Swiss financial industry will emerge well from the turmoil," said Vincenz. “But this requires a clear-cut strategy."

Removing uncertainties quickly

The traditional strengths of Switzerland's financial industry include stability, quality and security. Security, in particular, had suffered lately owing to the disputes with the US, said Vincenz. Things were well on track, however, although the tax conflict was already in its eighth year by now. A new uncertainty had emerged owing to the adoption of the immigration initiative. With regard to this issue, too, it was important to work out solutions as quickly as possible in order to prevent insecurity. He called upon the relevant actors to actively approach the EU, and he appeared convinced that Switzerland would be able to cope with new constraints and be able to negotiate intelligent agreements. He did not make a secret of the fact, however, that the situation would become more difficult and that Switzerland would have to live with limitations.

The first Eco East Symposium was entitled "Success strategies for turbulent times". It is the successor event to the traditional IHK Symposium and was organised by the St.Gallen-Appenzell and Thurgau Chambers of Industry and Commerce in cooperation with the University of St.Gallen and the Tagblatt media. The event was opened with a lecture by HSG Professor Heike Bruch, who spoke about "Leadership in tomorrow's worlds of work".

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