This week I am attending an investment conference in Zurich called Fonds 2010. I spent the day walking through the exhibitor area speaking to Swiss private banks, investment firm managers, hedge fund managers, and most any other type of investment professional you can think of.
I approached one unnamed banker and asked if his company accepted US clients. There were four of them standing in the area when I asked the question, and after asking, three of them scattered as if I dropped a grenade in the middle of them. The remaining guy apparently was the low guy on the totem pole so he stayed to chat a bit.
He told me that if I walked into his bank with a briefcase full of 100 dollar bills, he would have to ask me to leave. He said it was just too burdensome to accept a US client. They just weren’t interested. He said the amount of money I would need to deposit and the fees they would have to charge, would be so high, it would offset any possible benefit. The Swiss don’t want your money. And this is new under the Obama administration.
This was a common theme today. I found investment advisors and bankers throughout the day that turned quite cold when they realized I was American. I spoke to one very nice woman who worked for another unnamed Swiss bank who asked me to talk softer once she found out I was American. She told me it her bank wasn’t interested in US clients no matter what the deposit amount would be.
I did however, find 2 banks willing to accept US clients. I spoke with one of them at length today and have another meeting again tomorrow with them to discuss more details. I have a meeting with the other arranged for later in this week. Hopefully I can find a solution for clients interested in legal banking relationships in Switzerland. I will update you again later this week.
For those of you serious about asset protection, you should seriously be considering a banking relationship outside of the US. Maybe Switzerland is right for you, maybe not. There are other countries where this is still possible, but I find it increasingly difficult to find banks willing to accept US clients.
I am not suggesting tax evasion or hiding money, but keeping a portion of your wealth, legally, in a non-US bank makes it virtually impossible for your account to be reached by creditors pursuing unscrupulous lawsuits. And it gives you investing opportunities you may otherwise not have access to.