Banking on a bright future: Patrick Odier took over from Pierre Mirabaud as chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association in 2009. He speaks to Swiss News about the future of Swiss banking; the recent problems surrounding banking secrecy, and looming financial regulations intended to prevent future financial collapse.

Author:Broom, Giles
Position:Finance
 
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Patrick Odier (55) has spent most of his career with Geneva private bankers Lombard Odier Dafter Hentsch & Cie, joining the bank on completion of his education. After earning his economics degree at the University of Geneva, he went on to the University of Chicago, where he graduated with an MBA in finance.

Giles Broom, Swiss News: What are your objectives as chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association?

Patrick Odier: I set about defining my priorities when I was elected SBA chairman just over a year ago: my first priority has been to continue improving the dialogue between the SBA and the government, administration and regulatory authorities.

Secondly, I want to strengthen unity among SBA's members. We represent an extraordinarily diversified banking sector and it's crucial that we stand united behind our strategy for the future.

Thirdly, I want to reinforce trust on all fronts: in particular, Swiss public confidence in the banking sector, and the trust between Swiss finance and Swiss manufacturing. A strong and balanced set of regulations--as well as a willingness to conduct business according to shared principles and carefully thought self-regulation--are the guardians of our international competitiveness.

Finally, I want to see through the implementation of our four-pillar strategy for our financial centre's future. In a nutshell, this means focusing on the management of tax-compliant assets; normalising the status of any untaxed assets; continuing to protect financial privacy, and securing growth through improved operating conditions and improved market access. These are the building blocks around which the interests of the clients of Swiss-based banks will remain effectively at the heart of our financial sector's development.

Are you well known by those U.S. political and government decision-makers in charge of international tax collection and dealing with Swiss financial institutions? Do you receive a warm or frosty welcome at meetings on these issues?

The SBA regularly sends delegations to Washington and New York; we have an excellent and very constructive dialogue going on with the U.S. administration and regulatory authorities. Sure, our approaches sometimes diverge, but we are able to maintain a constructive and very professional dialogue. Tax issues have received most exposure in the media, but there are plenty of other subjects on the agenda.

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