Types of Swiss Bank Account. Private Banking, Islamic Banking, Cantonal Banks and cooperative banking.

Swiss Bank Account Types

Banks and financial institutions play an important role in the Swiss economy. The Swiss franc is among the world's most stable currencies. The Swiss capital market is one of the most important in the world. The two big banks - UBS and Credit Suisse - are among the leading banks.

In 2006 there was the equivalent of 127,921 full-time positions in the Swiss banking sector. Of these, 23,677 were outside Switzerland.

Private banking

The Swiss are world-wide leaders in "private banking", or asset management for individuals. They manage 35% of all private and institutional offshore funds. Private banking provides more than one third of the profits of UBS and Credit Suisse.

Switzerland also has a number of establishments run by private bankers. These are are wealthy individuals who bear unlimited personal responsibility for their bank's activities. In other words, they could lose their entire fortune in the unlikely event of its going bankrupt. These banks are coming under pressure to consolidate in the face of growing competition from the big commercial banks which have started to offer some similar services.

Some foreign banks, including Deutsche Bank and Barclays, have made Geneva the centre of their private banking activities.

Islamic banking

The first Islamic private bank, the Faisal Bank, opened in Geneva in 2006, targeting non-Swiss residents, in particular petrodollar fortunes from the Gulf region attracted by Switzerland's stable financial climate.

Several Swiss banks have branches in the Middle East offering services compatible with Islamic banking practices.

Cantonal banks

Switzerland has 24 cantonal banks, owned by the individual cantons either entirely or with a majority stake. They operate primarily in their home cantons, but are linked together nationally in the Cantonal Banks Group. The cantonal banks account for nearly one third of banking business in Switzerland.

Cooperative banking

Switzerland also has a network of cooperative banks, the Raiffeisen network, with 537 branches mainly in smaller towns and villages. Each branch is autonomous, with its members taking part in decision making, and bearing joint responsibility for the fortunes of their branch.