South Africans have R30 billion tucked away in Swiss banks

South Africans have in excess of R30 billion stashed away in the Swiss banking system, the latest data released by the Switzerland National Bank (SNB) shows.

The group, which operates as the Swiss policy maker on banking in the country, listed total South African exposure in the Swiss banking system at 2.22 billion francs (R30.3 billion), slightly up from the 2.21 billion francs recorded in 2015.

The data is published as part of its annual Banks in Switzerland review.

Over the past decade, there has been a marked shift in South African exposure to the Swiss banking system, with local banks decreasing their held funds significantly, as private wealth holders ramped up their exposure.

Between 2007 and 2016, banks reduced their exposure by 67%, while private clients increased their exposure by 58%.

At latest reporting, SA banks held 529 million francs in Swiss banks, while private clients held 1.47 billion. 122 million francs are listed as “other”, while fiduciaries – or wealth managers – account for the remaining 91.7 million francs, the SNB reported.

South Africa accounts for just 0.15% of total foreign currency exposure, down from 0.23% a couple of years ago.

South African wealth in Swiss banks

Exposure 2007 (francs, millions) 2015 (francs, millions) 2016 (francs, millions) Y-o-Y Change 10-year change
Banks 1 612.3 391.5 529.4 +35.2% -67.2%
Customers 935.0 1 693.8 1 475.5 -12.9% +57.8%
Others 319.7 30.9 122.1 +295.2% -61.8%
Fiduciaries 829.5 92.9 91.8 -1.2% -88.9%
3 696.4 2 209.0 2 218.7 -0.4% -40.0%

Source: SNB

The data covered by SNB shows the liabilities covered for foreign currency banks, customers and fiduciaries.

While the SNB does not ‘rank’ countries, per se, its data does reveal which countries have the highest exposure in its banking system.

The data reveals that direct foreign currency exposure to Swiss banks totals 1.42 trillion francs, including almost 100 billion francs held through fiduciaries.

While most of the currency exposure is held in francs, the active traders or investors (fiduciaries) depositing wealth in the country is in dollars.

Fiduciary deposits from abroad, deposits from developed countries were up by 14.9%, those from offshore centres by 2.7%, and those from developing countries by 2.3%, the bank said.


Read: SA billions in Swiss banks

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