Explained: Myths about Swiss bank accounts, money and operations

Myth 1: Swiss banks are for the filthy rich
Everyday people like you and me can open accounts. You have to fill out forms and provide documentation that proves your identity and work. You have to deposit 5,000 Swiss francs. Some banks even offer accounts with no minimum balance.

Myth 2: Swiss banks share your secrets
Swiss banks are popular for the associated confidentiality that has made them popular. A stringent code of secrecy is not something new for Swiss banks. Switzerland, considered as the "grandfather of bank secrecy", has been one of the largest offshore financial centres and tax havens in the world since the mid-20th century.
In 1713, the Great Council of Geneva established regulations that required bankers to keep registers of their clients but prohibited them from sharing the information with anyone. In Switzerland, it is a criminal offence on the part of a banker to reveal client information. This code makes Switzerland a safe haven for unaccounted-for funds.
Myth 3: Bank accounts are very expensive to maintain
Most of the Swiss bank accounts don't charge a cent as annual fees. Even if you would like additional services such as retained correspondence or numbered banking relations, the annual fees are very reasonable.

Myth 4: Your money is at risk
Switzerland has an extremely stable economy, well-built financial system and infrastructure for many years and hasn't been at war with any other country since 1505. Besides, returns on your money are the biggest draw. Swiss bankers are well skilled in investing and know how to grow your money.


Myth 5: Numbered accounts are only for VIPs
The numbered account is considered as the most secret account in Swiss banks. All interaction with the account is through the account number. Very few people in the bank will know the name behind the numbered account.
While such accounts are not easily provided, they are not restricted to VIPs. An individual wanting to possess a 'numbered account' has to be physically present and the initial deposit is at least $100,000.


Myth 6: Bankers don't check the source of your money
With growing guerrilla activities, terrorism, corruption and tax evasion on the rise, Swiss government has now started rejecting those accounts which they suspect have illegal roots. Furthermore, Swiss anti-money-laundering regulations also require depositors to provide proof regarding the origin of the funds they are placing in their accounts.
Myth 7: There is no cap on deposits
The Liberalised Remittance Scheme, introduced in 2004, allows Indians to open an account but with a ceiling for the financial year. The annual LRS limit (per individual) is $250,000 (Rs 1.5 crore) at present.
In contrast, NRIs get some extra benefits and can continue with their international bank account for unlimited time and there is no cap on the money that can be maintained in such accounts.
Myth 8: More Indians have Swiss accounts
The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) estimated in 2018 that Swiss banks held $6.5 trillion in assets or 25% of all global cross-border assets.  While the UK holds the largest chunk (over 27 per cent) of the total foreign money with Swiss banks, US is at the second position with 11 per cent share of all foreign funds.
India is at 73rd position and funds officially held by Indians are only 0.07 per cent of the total foreign money stashed in the accounts.