Throughout 2023, for our series, we will be interviewing a variety of companies, members, employees and exciting people from our network. This October, we are on the road with Thomas Sailer from the Banque Cantonale de Genève (BCGE) and his team. The BCGE’s home base is in Geneva, but they are at home throughout the world.

The Swiss Abroad have different needs; emigrating and returning, globetrotting and working abroad touch almost all areas of life. That’s why we rely on expertise and feedback from all kinds of areas. Over the years, we have acquired a lot of knowledge and gathered partners with exciting offers for Swiss people abroad. We are glad to have reliable partners at our side.

How would you describe your department and team at BCGE?

BCGE’s mission is to support Geneva’s economy and meet the needs of all its clients, wherever they may be, according to the applicable laws and regulations in their respective countries of residence. BCGE has acquired considerable expertise in this regard and has therefore become a valued partner for Swiss nationals living abroad. The bank provides support for all its clients, regardless of their assets with the bank, and each client has a personal contact person speaking German, English or French.

Your team offers services designed especially for Swiss expats. What is the motivation behind these services and what is their added value? What do you do better than your competitors?

Moving abroad raises a host of questions: What should I do with my pension assets? Can I withdraw them? Can I keep my mortgage in Switzerland? Where can I bank when I’ve left Switzerland? Can I continue to invest to avoid pension gaps when I retire? Should I draw up a financial plan to ensure my future financial security? How to go about my estate? We have a wealth of experience in these areas and are happy to answer any questions you may have about them. As a medium-sized bank, we are particularly flexible and reactive, and able to offer high-quality, personalised support.

What are your goals? If you are still active in this sector in five years’ time, what do you hope to have achieved alongside your organisation?

I would like to offer personalised, fair and tailored banking services to all Swiss citizens living abroad, based on the specific requirements of each country, and to help and support these individuals in all their financial matters. We see ourselves as our clients’ personal bankers. We believe that comprehensive advice at all stages of life is essential for our fellow citizens both in Switzerland and abroad.

Where are you currently present and where would you like to be with your team, if you had the choice, and why?

BCGE is currently present in Lausanne, Zurich, Basel and in Geneva, of course. We also have a subsidiary in France with three offices in Paris, Lyon and Annecy. Our representative offices in Dubai and Hong Kong are also available to our clients. We respond to our clients all over the globe by e-mail, telephone and videoconference. We always want to be as close as possible to our clients, whether they are based in Switzerland or elsewhere. Our clients are our gateway to the world. We want to help them shape their stories and realise their dreams.

What does “home” mean to you and where do you feel at home?

As much as I enjoy working in international banking and hearing the incredible stories and experiences of our clients around the world, my roots are in Switzerland and the city of Basel. With this solid base, I am able to support our clients and take pleasure in helping them realise their dreams. I grew up in the canton of Aargau but have lived in Basel and Basel-Landschaft for the last 18 years. I’m now firmly rooted here and feel very much at home, as do my family. The “Dreiländereck”, the region of three countries, offers many opportunities, and the Basel area brings together the best of what these three countries have to offer. I really like the cosmopolitan feel.

Is there anything that could make your line of work easier or better? If so, what?

We would be delighted simply to be able to continue to support Swiss nationals living abroad – and anyone thinking of becoming a Swiss abroad – in their financial affairs and in realising their dreams of moving to another country. Nevertheless, international banking remains a major challenge: Every country has its own restrictions, conditions and requirements when it comes to foreign banks. As financial experts, we need to be aware of all these regulations and respect them in order to protect our clients. Standardising regulations worldwide would make this task easier.

What advice or recommendations would you give to future expatriates?

If you are planning on moving abroad and would like us to assist you in doing so, I would recommend that you contact us so that we have enough time to organise everything without having to rush. In my experience, a move abroad generally goes smoothly if it is well planned for. For example, preparations include contacting experts in insurance, international health insurance, pension provision, taxation and financial planning. It pays to start planning early and meticulously to avoid unpleasant surprises later on. So don’t hesitate to call on our network of experts.

(Thomas Sailer, Senior Advisor International Private Banking, Banque Cantonale de Genève)


Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash