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Swiss Market Report 2011 - Analysis by Sector

Here is a review of the market dynamics by industry sector:

Banking and Financial Services

The Swiss banking sector continued to recover during 2010. The total number of corporate governance staff employed by the banking sector increased during 2010 and much of the recruitment was for positions that had been held open due to the financial crisis. These vacancies were often caused by internal promotions and resulted in steady demand at AVP and VP levels. Expectations from potential employers were high and external applicants not only needed to closely match the requirements of the role, but they often needed additional requirements in terms of language and technical skills.

The investment banks, having reached their limit of being able to redeploy internally, were generally focused on acquiring specific audit and risk experience in technical areas such as treasury or IT. The private banks were generally less selective and after a two year absence from the market, recruited against the significant number of vacancies that had gone unfilled. We expect these trends to continue during 2011.

The insurance sector, as might be expected from companies that exist to manage risk, coped with the recession relatively well. Whilst recruitment was substantially suspended during the course of the recession, the sector recruited steadily during 2010. This resulted in a modest increase in the number of internal auditors employed. Whilst Swiss insurance companies are not directly subject to the requirements of Solvency II and have been working on the implementation of their own Swiss Solvency Test (SST) in 2011, there was little indication from the recruitment market that it was a source of demand for corporate governance staff. We expect the insurance sector to continue to recruit steadily throughout the remainder of 2011.

There have been numerous reports of hedge funds and other alternative investment vehicles being attracted to Switzerland by the lower personal tax regime available and the possibility of tighter EU regulation. Whatever movement has taken place has yet to result in any discernible increase in the demand for corporate governance staff.


In spite of the strength of the Swiss Franc, the Swiss manufacturing sector fully participated in the global rebound during 2010. Whilst the sector remains exposed to any renewed weakness in the EU and a further strengthening of the Franc, recruitment in the sector was surprisingly buoyant particularly in the last quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011. A number of companies recruited into positions that had remained vacant during the recession.

Against prevailing expectations new corporate governance departments were established during the year. This was the result of a number of global manufacturing groups relocating their corporate offices to Switzerland. Although this has yet to result in any material external recruitment, it is a potentially positive development for future demand.

We expect the sector to continue to recruit on a replacement basis during 2011.

Chemical and Pharmaceuticals

Switzerland is amongst the world’s leading producers of chemicals and pharmaceuticals and operates in value adding specialties. The centre of the industry is Basel. These industries have a worldwide presence and in terms of corporate governance recruitment, rebounded strongly during the second half of 2010. The pharmaceutical sector was responsible for a steady stream of recruitment, primarily to replace staff either lost externally or more usually to internal promotions. Demand was for more experienced recruits.

Energy, Commodities and Mining

This is currently a buoyant sector in the Swiss corporate governance recruitment market. It developed on the back of a number of otherwise non-resident companies with interests in energy and mining listing in Switzerland and setting up local corporate offices. Whilst recruitment was subdued during the recession, rapidly rising commodity prices have underpinned growth in the sector. New departments were established in both Geneva and Zug and outside of banking and financial services, the sector led the recovery in demand for corporate governance staff in 2010. Relevant experience and language skills were often required as was a willingness to travel extensively to less developed regions of the world. Given the buoyant nature of the sector, we anticipate that demand will continue during 2011, both to replace staff as vacancies become available and to further build up numbers.

Big 4 and other external audit providers

In spite of co-sourcing being popular in Switzerland, the corporate governance offerings of the Big 4 and other external audit providers have historically been under developed when compared to many other European countries. This may be about to change.

Demand from the Big 4 started to emerge in the latter part of 2010. There are indications that during 2011 there will be a significant increase in demand. A key change appears to be a move back towards consulting, with specialist sector teams providing advisory services across the full spectrum of corporate governance.

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