As well as the SIX Swiss Exchange, Switzerland also hosts the lesser-known «Berne eXchange BX» stock exchange in Bern, of which all large Bernese banks are members.
The BX primarily lists Swiss SMEs which are not able to afford to make an initial public offering on the SIX exchange. All Swiss stocks can be traded on the BX - including all shares listed on SIX.
Trade foreign shares in Swiss Francs
One special feature of Bern’s BX stock exchange is the «BX Swiss» offer: Since November 2013, investors can trade non-Swiss stocks using Swiss francs in place of the relevant foreign currency. This service is possible thanks to a partnership with Baader Bank, of Germany.
Over 1000 stocks from 30 countries
Altogether, over 1000 stocks originating from over 30 countries can be traded in this way between 9:15am and 5:00pm, including Apple, Adidas, Amazon, Sony or H&M shares. Other types of assets, such as structured products and ETFs, cannot be traded.
BX Swiss: straightforward cost structure
Fees are always calculated in Swiss francs. A fee equal to 0.01% of each transaction or 10 francs, whichever is greater, applies. In addition to the trading fees charged by the BX, you will also pay brokerage fees to the bank or online broker that handles your transactions.
Local vs. international brokerage fees
Swiss brokers trading on the BX use local brokerage rates, rather than the much higher foreign rates, when billing investors. Because all transactions are performed in Swiss francs, brokers do not charge foreign currency conversion fees - these are factored into BX trading fees.
Depending on the broker, local brokerage rates used on Bern’s BX stock exchange may not always match those used on the SIX Swiss Exchange.
For example, trades brokered by Swissquote are subject to a 25 franc brokerage fee on transactions of up to 500 francs (compared to a 9 franc fee at SIX with the same broker). That 25 franc fee remains unchanged for transactions of 500 to 2000 francs (whereas Swissquote’s brokerage fee for SIX transactions in this tier jumps to 20 francs). In addition to brokerage fees, the BX rates (0.01% or 10 franc minimum per transaction), as well as stamp duties, should also be taken into account.
Pros and cons of BX Swiss
Possible disadvantage: Primary listings will normally offer greater market liquidity. For example, NASDAQ will likely provide greater liquidity to traders in Apple shares because that is the primary listing of Apple Inc.
Possible advantage: Depending on the scale and value of transactions (and on which broker is used), trading foreign shares in Swiss francs on the Berne eXchange may prove cheaper than performing the same exchange at a company’s primary listing.
The Bern stock exchange and Swiss banks
Unfortunately, not all Swiss banks and brokers offer a direct link to the BX. Banks which provide a direct connection to the Berne eXchange include UBS, Credit Suisse, Valiant, Berner Kantonalbank and Swissquote (some trades may require phone communications).
Your broker can fill you in on available investment opportunities. Depending on your situation and possibilities, it may well be to your advantage to request that your foreign equities be traded through the BX rather than at primary listings outside of Switzerland.
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