Swiss bank PostFinance to charge for retail deposits of Sfr1m or more

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In what is being seen as the latest indication of the toll negative interest rates are having on the banking industry, Switzerland’s fifth largest bank, PostFinance, has announced it will begin charging clients who maintain deposits of SFr1m (US$1m, £780,000) or more a fee.

In a statement it said that it will charge “a 1% fee on the proportion of the credit balance of wealthy private customers that exceeds one million francs” beginning on 1 February, “until further notice”.

Assets in all private and savings accounts “will be taken into account” in arriving at the balance total, the bank said, although it noted that “most private and business customers will remain exempt from the fee”.

“I appreciate that these measures will not be very popular amongst our customers. Nobody likes paying fees,” PostFinance chief executive Hansruedi Köng said.

“We have a clear mandate to operate economically. However, as a bank owned by Swiss Post and therefore by the Swiss Confederation, we are not bound by the classic shareholder value approach. We have therefore always allowed our customers to share in our success. This has enabled us to offer them attractive interest rates and fees over the years.

“We too are pained by the fact that this is no longer possible to the same extent, due to negative interest rates, the lending prohibition and the costs incurred by stricter regulatory requirements.”

To view the statement on the PostFinance website, click here.

Based in Bern, PostFinance was founded in 1906, and is the financial services arm of Swiss Post.