Sunday, February 6, 2011

The unglamorous world of Swiss banking

When telling our friends that we were moving, the thing they found most amusing about us going to Switzerland was having to open a Swiss bank account. There’s something about Swiss bank accounts that makes them sound so… glamorous.

Saying someone has a Swiss bank account conjures up images of shady billionaires trying to dodge tax or James Bond, The Saint’s Simon Templar or Jason Bourne.

Swiss bank paper overload!
The reality is far different; I know as I now have a Swiss bank account. Sorry to disappoint, but there are no hand prints on electronic screens, voice recognition or retina scans required to open one. All you need is an address and some identification, like your passport, and in 5 – 10 working days, you too can have your own Swiss bank account.

I went with the distinctly unglamorous Swiss bank of PostFinance – the bank of the Swiss national post office. A lot of locals use them and they have low fees. It’s all very efficient. I will say two things on them though: I’ve never been so overwhelmed with paperwork in one hit – I received six different envelopes relating to my account in one day (see right); and two, that their internet banking is quite secure. In the top right of the photo, you’ll see a bright yellow device that looks pretty much like a calculator. To access internet banking, you need your bank card, the calculator thing, a nine digit internet banking number and a password. It’s not retina scanning, but that’s some hard core security for internet banking.

At least I know my hard-earned is locked up tight like it’s in a Swiss bank. Oh, er…

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