Time for another one of these. Same format as last time:
- First impressions
- Opening An Account
- Internet Banking
- Card Products
- Customer Service
- Account Management
- Other Services
- Final Notes
Again: Take particular note to that I will not be discussing the financial health of the bank. This is not a bank recommendation post. It’s a retelling of my experiences with a bank.
Today we will be talking about UBS in Switzerland. They provide excellent wealth management and private banking elsewhere, particularly Singapore, but since this series is focusing on hands-on banking, the scope of this post is narrowed to only Switzerland.
UBS is one of the finest banks in the world. The bank has been around since the mid-1800s and is today one of the largest banks in the world (ranking somewhere in the top-30) with assets of circa 2 trillion CHF.
To a resident of Switzerland, it is one of the big two banks where most Swiss bank. (The other being Credit Suisse.) Dealing with UBS as a Swiss resident is a delight. The bank is everywhere, even in the smallest villages, and the staff is – in my experience – always helpful and friendly.
Things are different as a non-resident. The bank can seem stand-off-ish and snooty. It is very difficult to approach UBS directly if you do not live in Switzerland or other country where they have a significant presence and/or have a lot of money.
Fees depend on what type of client you are but generally speaking, the fees are low. In many cases, the bank is willing to waive fees or offer personalized packages.
It’s worth noting that fees are often charged in CHF which may incur a foreign exchange fee on non-CHF products.
For private banking, the bank offers both flat rate and performance based (percentage) depending on your needs.
Opening An Account
As a Swiss resident, it is very easy to open an account. Just show up with your Swiss ID card or passport if you are a national, or your passport and residence permit if you are a non-citizen. It helps to bring some sort of proof of income, especially if you are a foreigner.
Corporate accounts for Swiss companies are equally easy to open for a resident. A non-resident-controlled Swiss company can usually open an account with UBS with ease using a nominee, resident director known to the bank.
For non-residents, it’s much more difficult. Persons with very high incomes are occasionally accepted for normal personal banking. Otherwise, the bank will insist on a minimum deposit of one or two million CHF/EUR/USD, although exceptions are made from time to time for people who can deposit 250,000 CHF/EUR/USD.
The bank is able to issue credit and prepaid cards denominated in CHF, EUR, and USD. There have been a few times where I have wished they had other currencies (GBP mostly) but EUR and USD in addition to CHF provide strong coverage anyway.
The cards have EMV chips and support 3D Secure (Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode) for online shopping.
The standard Maestro debit card you get does not work online, though.
While I don’t on a day-to-day basis use that many banks’ internet banking services, UBS is nonetheless one I would call one of if not the best in the world.
The interface is very easy to work with and practically all functionality one could want is in there. It’s very easy to keep track of your finances with UBS.
The mobile app could do with some improvements. It often crashes or can’t be exited by normal means, which can be very annoying.
Again one of if not the best of any bank in the world.
Most accounts are given a named contact for most issues and you rarely need to contact normal customer service. When you do, it’s usually fairly easy to get a hold of someone. Customer service works around the clock and you can always find someone who speaks English, in addition to German, French, Italian, and sometimes even other languages.
Unsurprisingly, my experiences have been great here, too.
Account management for corporate accounts as well as private banking accounts is stellar. This is a bank which keeps winning awards and receiving acclaim for its quality of services.
For residents of Switzerland, wealthy non-residents, and (sometimes) non-resident controlled Swiss companies, UBS belongs to a very small group of banks worth using the word best to describe.
I have never had a client want to move away from UBS after being placed there.