Banking on the move The financial centre of Switzerland is under fire, the Swiss Post is thinking of going public, and the technology group Yahoo appoints a pregnant woman as its CEO. HSG experts commented on this in the media. 31 August. 2012. Only a few years ago, top bankers and top politicians described banking secrecy as “non-negotiable”. How quickly the tide can turn in the international fight against tax evasion was underestimated by many (swissinfo, 30 August 2012). “We’re in the sights of the artillery from all countries, there are new attacks every day,” said Paolo Bernasconi, Professor of Business Law in St.Gallen. Looking at the Swiss banks’ core business, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (31 August 2012) spoke of a “paradise lost”. Until the treaty between Germany and Switzerland is in force, German tax dodgers can withdraw their money anonymously from Switzerland. In order to close loopholes for people who take “French leave” in this manner, there is an intention to introduce retroactive group requests. This was legally feasible, said tax law expert Robert Waldburger in an interview with Swiss Radio DRS (23 August 2012). The tussle about the data exchange between US-American and Swiss authorities is not over yet, either. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s decision not to investigate banks which passed on employee data to the USA is controversial. HSG law expert Rainer Schweizer accused the Department of Finance of sneakiness (Tages-Anzeiger, 21. August 2012): “The Federal Council’s decision on which the whole argumentation is based has never been published. We don’t even know what legal basis the Federal Council is invoking.” New dynamism for the Post The Swiss Post will become a joint-stock company but remain in the ownership of the Confederation,Swiss Radio DRS reported on 30 August 2012. The National Council overruled the conversion of Postfinance into a post office bank (Swiss Television, 30 August 2012). The Handelszeitung (23 August 2012) cast a critical eye on the announced conversion of the Post’s financial service provider. To date, Postfinance had set great store by safe investment transactions. The new strategy would expose the institute to a higher interest risk: “The value of the securities could drop a great deal if there were a rise in interest rates, which would reduce the capital base,” said HSG banking expert Martin Brown. Protest after the verdict on Russian punk bank The sentence on the Russian punk band Pussy Riot triggered off vehement protests in the West. Numerous critical voices were also raised in Russia’s artistic and intellectual scene. “It is not only the verdict that is scandalous, public reaction to the proceeding is scandalous too,” wrote Ulrich M. Schmid in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (21 Augsut 2012). As the HSG Professor of Russian Culture and Society observed, many people were in favour of the punishment for the musicians’ “punk prayer” criticising Putin in a Moscow church. In principle, the sentence was not contrary to many Russian people’s sense of justice. Schmid reckons that a purely political protest against the Putin system would hurt most Russians’ feelings much less than an attack on the orthodox religion. After 70 years of compulsory atheism, the orthodox faith had a high status in government and society. Yahoo is pregnant: change in the IT industry? Because more women managers are supposed to be promoted, men fear for their careers. Are enterprises now facing a “battle of the genders”? This question was raised by Klaus Werle in Manager Magazin (27 August 2012). Not really, estimate experts. “A wide variety of studies reveal that mixed teams are more productive and work more creatively,” said HSG gender researcher Gudrun Sander. In technology giants such as Yahoo, Facebook and Hewlett-Packard, it is more and more frequently women who are in charge – the change in the industry was also palpable in Switzerland, the Sonntagszeitung (26 August 2012) reported. The figureheads of such big corporations did not indicate, however, that job and family were more easily compatible in the IT industry than elsewhere, said Julia Nentwich, Professor of Organizational Psychology at the HSG. “There is no evidence whatsoever that communication technologies and more flexible working hours would improve the percentage of women in middle management, let alone that this is more strongly the case in technology companies.” Picture: Photocase / frau.L.