- On April 25, 2018
The term Swissness has been percolating for a while but in recent years has become the word the Swiss are pushing to project Swiss pride. Here are some of the historical highlights of Swissness as it is described and explained by others, for your reading pleasure.
The earliest mention we found of Swissness in our Internet research was in 2004. While we are sure the term Swissness has been around before that, we have other things to do.
In February 2004 Economist did a special report on Switzerland. The story leads with: Switzerland has always prided itself on its exceptionalism, but there are signs that it is becoming more like other countries. Barbara Beck examines the current state of Swissness.
This report shares that “Swissness” covers a range of attributes that Switzerland has been using to good effect to sell itself to other countries—and perhaps even to itself.
It states that Swissness attributes are democracy, fairness, stability, quality, meticulousness, punctuality, thrift, efficiency, openness and all sorts of other desirable things. These are all great words to be sure, but the report points out that Swissness actions don’t always match the words.
The report conveys Swissness isn’t all bliss and goes into detail about several undesirable things of Swissness like public expenditures on health care getting out of hand and the revelation (more recent in 2004) that neutral Switzerland had behaved rather less well in the second world war than everybody had wanted to believe. It turned away too many Jewish would-be refugees at its borders; indeed, it has only just got around to pardoning those Swiss citizens who illegally helped Jews to enter the country during the Nazi period.
The Switzerland legislative project “Swissness” was started in 2006 by Parliament members.
“Swissness in a Nutshell” by Gianni Haver (Author), Mix & Remix (Author), and Robert Middleton (Author) was published. With more than two hundred full-color cartoons, photos, and works of art this accessible guide illuminates the unique alpine nation.
April of 2009 we found this except from an article: “Under Grübel, who was a former boss of Credit Suisse and joined UBS in February, the bank is seen to be drawing in its horns and emphasizing its Swissness.”
In June 2010 Author Diccon Bewes wrote “A beginner’s guide to Swissness” which focuses on the creation of the term “Swissness” as a means to unite the country/cultural norms, across language barriers with a single word.
“Swissness is a word that is essentially self-explanatory: it means anything and everything to do with Switzerland. But it is in fact a made-up word, used by the Swiss to cross their own language barriers and so unite the country with a single word.”
Vice Chairman of the Governing Board Swiss National Bank wrote a paper called
Approaching the finish line: The too big to fail project in Switzerland. The paper was written for the International Center for Monetary and Banking Studies Geneva, 17 May 2011.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is the central bank of Switzerland.
Swissness was described as the international competitiveness of the Swiss banks. “These include favourable tax conditions, political and economic stability, a high degree of legal certainty, excellent asset management expertise and high standards in the banking business generally. Overall, this ‘Swissness’ represents a crucial success factor for the banks when it comes to competing internationally with other financial centres.”
For “Swissness” The Magazine of the School of Management and Law at Zurich University, in July 2012 Authors Regine Wieder and Veronika Hübl wrote “The Swissness Initiative”.
“The value-enhancing properties of Swissness have attracted many free-riders and imitators, who apply obvious Swiss attributes to products that have little or no connection with Switzerland. This abuse of the brand will eventually dilute it and diminish its added value. In 2006, two cases of apparent brand abuse, in which Switzerland’s name and coat of arms were used for goods whose production took place almost entirely outside of Switzerland, caused heated debate amongst Swiss politicians, businesses, and farmers, as well as within the Swiss community. One of them was the cosmetics company Juvena that added “of Switzerland” to its brand name, even though its products were made in Germany. The other case was the Swiss manufacturer Sigg, who labeled cookware that was produced in China with “Switzerland” and the Swiss cross. Since then, the involved parties have been searching for a solution to the problem of how to define, legally codify, and protect Switzerland as a brand. This has led to the formation of the “Swissness Initiative”, which aims at a revision of the Swiss Coat of Arms Protection Act as well as the Swiss Trade Mark Protection Act. The initiative was inspired by regulations introduced for the watch industry more than 40 years ago in order to protect quality, Swiss production sites, premium prices, and thus Swiss companies.”
Reuters did an article on UBS using its 150th anniversary to try to rebuild an image tarnished by a $2 billion trading scandal and its involvement in a global inquiry into a conspiracy to manipulate interbank lending rates.
Richard Haigh, a valuation consultant at Brand Finance gave UBS some Swissness advice and a bit more insight into the meaning. “With 150 years, UBS should be playing up their Swissness,” he said. “They are a very Swiss bank which has positive and negative connotations — secretive but very trustworthy.”
Investlogic wrote an article, Swissness: Swiss private banking competitive advantages, which frames Swissness with UBS being a tax haven aiding and abetting wealthy US citizens in their attempts to hide money from the tax authorities.
In summer 2013, the new “Swissness” legislation was agreed by the Swiss parliament. The objective of the new legal framework is to provide long-term security to the added value delivered by the brand “Switzerland”
Economist.com posted and article titled: Swissness is not enough. The article reports during the time that “Zurich hopes to reinvent itself as a handler of money for institutions rather than individuals. Such asset management is more transparent than private banking and less prone to attracting dodgy clients.”
Switzerland parliament passed what they term as “Swissness legislation” in 2015.
Bachmann, Kremena and Hens, Thorsten, Wrote: “Is there Swissness in Investment Decision Behavior and Investment Competence?” (February 1, 2016) and was the article was included in Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, August 2016, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 233–275.
We conclude that there is Swissness in the decision behavior as well as in the emotional investment competence. The latter is associated with regional differences in the relationship to investment advisors.”
“In the investment knowledge, only German- and French-speaking Swiss are significantly better than their neighbors abroad with no significant differences among each other. The investment knowledge of Italian-speaking Swiss is similar to the investment knowledge of their Italian-speaking neighbors and much lower than the knowledge of German-speaking Swiss.
We can conclude that there are Swissness only the two main language regions of Switzerland. There is no Swissness in the ability to avoid excessive trading.
“Overall questions, Swiss make significantly fewer mistakes than their neighbors abroad do, but there are significant differences in the investment competence of Italian- and German-speaking Swiss. Since the latter (0.543) is smaller than the estimated differences between German-speaking Swiss and German (0.611), we conclude that there is Swissness in the overall investment competence. In the context of the previous observations, we can say that the Swissness in the investment competence is more likely to be emotional than knowledge-driven.”
In June 2016 Sola Cutlery published article “Swissness – the quality of being Swiss” which state the Swissness 5 P’s and a couple Swiss native’s definition of the term.
The native Swiss explain what Swissness means to them:
“Swissness is a synonym for innovation, exclusive products, and excellent services. It refers to a country that is rich in various cultures, cosmopolitan and open to the world. In short, it is a term that is positive and can be used to promote business.” Thomas
“Swissness is a word that is essentially self-explanatory: it means anything and everything to do with Switzerland. It is Swiss tradition – Swiss precision and perfectionism – not just in business, but also in everyday life. It refers to a high level of respect and popularity.” Matthias
“In July 2016 Dr. Stephan Feige, from the Institute of Marketing at the University of St Gallen, led a team of researchers on the Swissness Worldwide 2016 study, which interviewed 7,914 people from 15 countries:
“Based on the results of 2016’s survey, which was first conducted in 2008, the Swiss government had estimated ‘Swissness’ to be worth upwards of 5.8 billion francs”
“It found that people all over the world are willing to pay up to 100 percent more for a Swiss product.”
As well as assessing the reputation of Swiss products, the survey also looked into the broader perception of the country.
Respondents were asked to consider if they perceived countries to be cosmopolitan or xenophobic, and a score was given based on the ratio between the two.
“Switzerland was judged the third most cosmopolitan behind Italy and Spain.” “Switzerland is considered by international standards – probably contrary to the prevailing opinion in Switzerland – as cosmopolitan and slightly xenophobic,” said the report.
We found an article about the new UBS office designs projecting Swissness. Dirk Klee, Chief Operating Officer at UBS Wealth Management, told finews.asia about the office strategy: “The customer needs to feel what UBS stands for, when he comes to us for advice. The attributes UBS would like its clients to connect with the bank are professionalism, a sense for quality and ‘Swissness’
Anja Hochberg, CS Head Investment Services and member of the Swiss Advisory Council of Fund Women Germany, naturally refers to this term in her profession, the financial sector. In their view, “Swissness” is the connection between historically grown craft in consulting and innovation in methods and instruments.”
“Swissness advantages or not – it must not go unmentioned that in this country, not everything that may adorn itself with this seal of approval, without blemish. Thus it is hardly a decade ago that Swiss bankers were completely out of balance in the wake of the international financial crisis. The country’s largest bank, UBS, had to be rescued by the federal government; bank secrecy, a sacred cow of the local financial world, was opened under pressure from the US judiciary, bankers threatened on the way home from America for acquiescence to tax evasion; many foreign private customers of the institutes on the Zurich Bahnhofstrasse were rude before the necessity of a self-disclosure. Today, the headlines of the media are once again full: Switzerland has undertaken to introduce the once so abhorred automatic exchange of information on financial customers (AIA) until 2018. Then, once a year, Bern will inform foreign authorities about the names of taxpayers and their Swiss bank accounts, with all the details of the deposit developments. The first wave of AIA agreements included, among others, the EU, Japan, and the US. Now the Department of Finance has prepared a bill which gives the Federal Council the competence to introduce the AIA with twenty other states and territories. That’s the way it is – a small country has to accept the pressure of the big ones because otherwise, the domestic companies can no longer handle their comparatively far more important business activities abroad.”
In January of 2017, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property implemented The “Swissness” legislation. “The ‘Swissness’ legislation strengthens protection for the ‘Made in Switzerland’ designation and the Swiss cross. It helps prevent and curb their misuse so that the value of the ‘Swiss’ brand can be preserved in the long term”
Mr. Ermotti shared in an interview with Bloomberg Markets in the November issue, “We feel we are a Swiss-based organization, and Swissness is a competitive advantage.”
Bloomberg article quotes Mr. Ermotti, “We are Swiss and this Swissness will help us a lot. Clients respect it — I hope we will remain a global bank with a home base in Switzerland.”
Join our list
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.