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Bank Customers Could Save More Than 13 Billion Francs per Year

February 13, 2024 - Benjamin Manz

An analysis by online comparison services moneyland.ch shows that Swiss consumers lose over 13 billion francs per year by failing to migrate to the most affordable banking offers.

While Swiss consumers’ readiness to change service providers is increasing, it is still low. That has financial consequences, as a study by independent online comparison service moneyland.ch shows. In order to find out how much money bank customers lose every year, moneyland.ch analyzed the average savings potential across different banking products and then extrapolated these across all bank customers.

High savings potential

The savings potential figures show the amount that could be saved if all private customers were to migrate to the cheapest or highest-yield offers. moneyland.ch provides the average savings potential per product category and customer, and multiplies this amount by the total number of customers of Swiss banks. The following categories of products are accounted for: Private accounts and debit cards; savings accounts; pillar 3a savings accounts, pillar 3a retirement funds, credit cards, mortgages, stock brokerage, and asset management. The savings potential for other products like vested benefits accounts and medium-term notes, and banking products for businesses, was not accounted for in the analysis.

The results of the analysis show that the annual savings potential for bank customers in Switzerland is around 13.4 billion Swiss francs. “Even people who do not use mortgages, stock brokerage, or asset management could save an average of 1210 francs per year,” says moneyland.ch CEO Benjamin Manz. Customers who use products that cost more than average could save much more than that.

Consumers who prefer not to give up their old bank also have the option of simply using a service from a different bank without immediately terminating their old banking relationship. That is relatively simple with products that do not have basic, ongoing fees, like savings accounts, pillar 3a accounts, and no-annual-fee credit cards.

Calculate your own saving potential individually

The potential savings revealed by the moneyland.ch study are estimates based on the current fees of banking products, and the assumption that all customers would move to the most favorable offer. These estimates primarily serve to reveal how big the differences between offers from different banks are.

“In practice, the amount you as an individual can save obviously depends on which banking offers you use, and on the way that you use them,” says Benjamin Manz. He advises bank customers to compare their own savings potential individually. Unlike insurance premiums, banking fees and differences in interest rates are often grossly underestimated.

Mortgages: 4.8 billion francs

The majority of Swiss bank customers do not use mortgages, which makes the per-customer average savings potential even higher. On average, mortgage customers could save 3080 francs per year by moving to the bank with the most favorable mortgage interest rate. That comes to 4.8 billion francs across all homeowners combined. The reason why savings potential is so high is that many mortgage customers still too often simply accept the first offer from their everyday bank without comparing first. Additionally, many borrowers forget that mortgage interest rates are often negotiable.

Savings accounts: 2.5 billion francs

The huge savings potential may see surprising. One reason for the high figure is that many Swiss hold their wealth in savings accounts. Another reason is that since the end of the negative interest rate environment, some Swiss banks have only moderately raised their interest rates, while others have drastically raised their rates. In other words, the differences between savings accounts are much bigger now than they were in 2022. On average, savings account holders could each receive 450 francs more interest if they moved to the account with the highest rate. Extrapolated across the entire population, that figure translates into 2.5 billion francs.

Asset management: 2.4 billion francs

Asset management is expensive in Switzerland. The costs often go unnoticed because, in years when the stock market performs well, the returns are much higher than the fees. But it is more accurate to grade products in comparison to the cheapest offers. Currently, online asset management services are the cheapest, in many cases.

The average savings potential per asset management customer is 14,100 francs per year – the highest across all of the analyzed product categories. Even if the bulk of the population does not use asset management, the high per-customer savings potential adds up to a total of 2.43 billion francs.

Private accounts and debit cards: More than 2 billion francs

The average annual savings potential is 306 francs for adults and 116 francs for young people. Multiplied across all customers, that results in a high 2.03 billion francs that could be saved every year if the population were to migrate to the cheapest account and the cheapest debit card. The major differences can be explained, in part, by the differences in fees (such as basic account fees, debit card fees, cash withdrawal fees, and foreign transaction fees). But differences in interest rates now also play a role again.

Credit cards: 570 million francs

The savings potential for an average customer is 94 francs per year – without accounting for prepaid cards and expensive platinum credit cards. Extrapolated across all cardholders, a total saving of 570 million francs could be achieved if cardholders were to all use the cheapest credit card. The reason for this is that the differences between Swiss credit cards are substantial.

Stock brokerage: 410 million francs

The amount that investors could potentially save on their stock brokerage accounts has increased in recent years. On the one hand, we see new and affordable offers from online trading platforms being introduced. On the other hand, most conventional banks have not significantly changed their fees. The result is that the cost gaps between offers have gotten wider.

The average savings potential that could be achieved if investors were to move to the cheapest stock brokerage account is 491 francs per year. That translates into a total of 410 million francs per year of potential savings.

Pillar 3a savings accounts: 410 million francs

As with regular savings accounts, interest rates are the relevant factor for pillar 3a savings accounts as well. The average annual interest rate is currently 1 percent, while the highest-yield pillar 3a account has a 1.7 percent annual interest rate.

Pillar 3a retirement funds: 210 million francs

Costs are the primary criterion for choosing a retirement fund. Apart from TER fees, investing in a retirement fund may also generate custody fees, sales charges, and deferred sales charges. On average, customers could save 208 francs per year by moving to the cheapest retirement fund. That translates into an extrapolated figure of 210 million francs of savings potential.

Category Total savings potential
across all bank customers
Average savings
potential per person
Maximum savings
potential per person
Mortgages CHF 4800 million CHF 3080 CHF 4180
Savings accounts CHF 2540 million CHF 450 CHF 731
Asset management CHF 2430 million CHF 14,100 CHF 24,100
Private accounts and debit
cards
CHF 2030 million CHF 306
(CHF 116 for young people)
CHF 461
(CHF 304 for young people)
Credit cards CHF 570 million CHF 94 CHF 684
Stock brokerage CHF 410 million CHF 491 CHF 1169
Pillar 3a savings accounts CHF 410 million CHF 152 CHF 314
Pillar 3a retirement funds CHF 210 million CHF 208 CHF 384
Total CHF 13.4 billion    

 

Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of moneyland.ch and an independent expert on banking and finance.
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