According to Cenni Najy, a political science specialist at the University of Geneva, cited in the Tribune de Genève, Brexit with have a very direct impact on Geneva. Many British nationals work in Geneva and many from Geneva work in London, particularly in financial services. What will happen when there are changes to the free movement of people?
There are many flights between Geneva and the UK, in particular on Easyjet, reflecting the strong tourism and business links between the two places.
Najy says “The canton of Geneva will be the Swiss canton most affected by the Brexit. Geneva is in a position of interdependency with the United Kingdom.” It imported CHF 1.7 billion from the UK in 2015, and only the canton of Basel exports more to the UK than Geneva.
According to Swiss government statistics there were nearly 7,500 British living in the canton in 2014.
Others like Laurent Bakhtiari, an analyst at IG Bank, quoted in an article in Bilan says: “London was considered the financial nerve centre because it was the access point to the EU. This will go up in smoke and financial players are going to look for another hub. Where will that be? It’s too soon to say. HSBC and Deutsche Bank already have plans to leave London and Switzerland has much to offer. Brexit deprives the City of its role as a hub. Banks will need to adjust.”
UBS, Credit Suisse and Julius Baer could bring operations back to Switzerland which could boost local activity.
Oscar Bartolomei, director of a family office in Geneva told Bilan: “In terms of wealth management, Switzerland has several cards to play. Already in the lead up to the referendum funds were flowing from the City (of London) to Geneva. Private banking clients hate uncertainty and Switzerland profits every time there is a crisis in a neighbouring country. With account transparency and automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and the UK, a client in the City can move their account in 48 hours. An account declared in London is automatically declared in Geneva.”
Oscar Bartolomei does point out that “… Switzerland does not have access to the european market, which will discourage fund managers to set up here.”