May 31, 2012 / 9:42 AM / 7 years ago

Swiss financial sector plans big cost cuts-study

* Half of firms want to cut costs 5-10 pct

* 40 percent aiming for cuts of 10-20 pct

* Private banking particularly hard hit by asset loss

ZURICH, May 31 (Reuters) - The Swiss financial industry - particularly private banking - is planning radical restructuring to improve cost efficiency, a survey showed on Thursday.

Audit and advisory firm Ernst & Young said half of the financial institutions it surveyed wanted to cut costs by 5-10 percent, while 40 percent of firms were aiming for cuts of 10-20 percent and 4 percent were hoping to slash more than 20 percent.

The survey was carried out by an online questionnaire in February at 23 large banks and 10 insurance companies.

“These figures are a clear signal that we are on the brink of further transformation in the financial sector,” Bernhard Boettinger of Ernst & Young said in a statement.

“A temporary economic recovery would not be enough to stop this process. The industry is undergoing radical change.”

Ernst & Young said insurance companies cited fiercer competition for new customers and growing price pressure as the main drivers for restructuring, while banks pointed to the cost of new regulations and more rapid client turnover.

It said private banks were particularly hard hit as clients withdraw their assets or turn to products with lower returns.

The Swiss banking industry is seeing a big outflow of European assets after the country came under international pressure to clamp down on foreign tax evaders who have stashed their wealth in secret Swiss accounts.

The Swiss parliament gave the green light on Wednesday for pacts with Germany, Britain and Austria aimed at taxing their citizens’ undeclared assets. (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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