Making Switzerland the home of sustainability

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Making Switzerland the home of sustainability

Switzerland should be internationally known as the go-to destination for sustainable finance as it becomes increasingly attractive to multi-nationals due to the excellent infrastructure and high standard of living, which has become synonymous with the country.

Leading figures in Swiss finance, at the “Gemeinsam für Zürich” event, organised by the Finanz und Wirkschaft Forum, recently highlighted the numerous attributes that Switzerland has developed in recent years. Lombard Odier’s Senior Managing Partner Patrick Odier shared that, in the same way Paris has positioned itself as a climate location, Switzerland should be known as one for sustainable finance.  

“Sustainable Finance must become a brand. The exchange among all players should be intensified,” he said. 

…in the same way Paris has positioned itself as a climate location, Switzerland should be known as one for sustainable finance

Ever improving

Over the last 30 years, Switzerland has continued to improve, according to Prof. Markus Gross of the Department of Computer Science at ETH Zurich. The excellent infrastructure and the fact that Swiss employees are used to working remotely has made it easier to connect to global companies. And the success of tech companies has done much to motivate the entrepreneurial spirit in young people. 

The next generation must be taught to be fit to handle new technologies and it should be ensured that start-ups do not go abroad, said Martina Hirayama, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation. “Innovation and talent promotion are crucial to strengthen the location and to position Switzerland and Zurich successfully,” she said.  

The issue of scalability is one which troubles Switzerland however, said Prof Gross, as the country is small and limited. Often, start-ups being acquired by bigger companies happens too early in their development and this does not help the location in which they are based.

One part of the solution is to look at how other countries develop and remain adaptable, said Regine Sauter, Director of the Zurich Chamber of Commerce. Another is to make use of networks outside Switzerland such as Swissnetz, where hubs to talk about innovation can be created.

Over the last 30 years, Switzerland has continued to improve… The excellent infrastructure and the fact that Swiss employees are used to working remotely has made it easier to connect to global companies

Keeping our talent

Lombard Odier recruits two thirds of their staff from Switzerland - a very good proportion, said Mr Odier. This talent must be retained by establishing projects in companies that give them the opportunity to immerse themselves in an entrepreneurial culture. By doing this, additional competence can be built.

However, international networking is hindered by the uncertainty over the relationship between Switzerland and other European countries, said Ms Sauter. Switzerland itself needs to become more networked, said Ms Hirayama, with agencies inside linked up.

 

Investing more

Maintaining and growing Switzerland means investing in Zurich as a business location, said Prof. Jan-Egbert Sturm, Director of the KOF Swiss Economic Institute at ETH Zurich. The political stability and the flexibility of the economy are the secrets of its success, he says.

“We have excellent infrastructure, a high quality of life and world-class universities. We are used to working remotely and have the tools to do so. Covid has helped this basic idea of collaboration. Our location is strengthened through remote work, making it easier to be connected globally,” said Prof Gross.

Another key tenet to the success of the country is for academia and business to work together, said another industry leader.

…there is a huge opportunity to turn sustainable finance into a brand. But the opportunities have not yet been taken advantage of

A sustainable future

Lombard Odier’s view that sustainability should be a key focus of Switzerland’s future has been echoed by other key figures. Experts in the field said that there is a huge opportunity to turn sustainable finance into a brand. But the opportunities have not yet been taken advantage of. They think that sustainability should be included everywhere in the value chain. 

In order to push the sustainability agenda, Mr Odier says the message has to be better communicated to clients.

Important information

This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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