The financial sector remained one of the most important pillars of the Swiss economy in 2022. The study by BAK Economics shows that gross value added of CHF 70.9 billion was generated along the entire value chain of insurers and banks. Insurers accounted for around 38 percent of this. With CHF 515,900 added value per full-time job, insurers were once again the most productive industry in the financial sector.
Financial sector as a cornerstone of the Swiss economy
Companies in the financial sector provide a wide range of services, such as risk protection and the supply of money for private individuals and companies. Both are essential for a functioning economy. In 2022, the 234,600 employees of insurers and banks generated gross value added of CHF 70.9 billion. This means that 5.4% of jobs in Switzerland were directly attributable to the financial sector. In terms of gross value added, the share of the overall economy is significantly higher at 9.3%, which is due to the above-average level of workplace productivity. Insurers stand out as a particularly productive industry within the financial sector. At CHF 515,900 per full-time job, it is almost three times as productive as the overall economic average.
Through the direct taxation of employee income and profits in the financial sector, the Confederation, cantons and municipalities recorded fiscal revenues of CHF 7.8 billion. This corresponds to 7.6 percent of tax revenue in Switzerland resulting from the direct taxation of individuals and legal entities.
Fig. 1 : Insurers' share of the financial sector
Driving force for other sectors
Due to the economic interdependence, companies from other sectors also benefit from the activities of insurers and banks. For example, the demand for supporting services – such as IT or consulting services – leads to orders for companies along the entire upstream value chain. In addition, trade and commerce in particular benefit from the consumer spending of employees in the financial sector. Taking these effects into account, the financial sector generated additional gross value added of CHF 30.2 billion in 2022. In total, CHF 101.1 billion or more than every eighth franc of value added was linked to activities in the financial sector.
These multiplier effects result in one additional job in other Swiss industries for every job in the insurance sector. In total, more than 161,200 jobs in the Swiss economy are attributable to the activities of insurers – 448,200 to the activities of the financial sector as a whole.
The financial sector is also associated with substantial fiscal revenues for the public sector. The taxes levied by the Confederation, cantons and municipalities that were directly or indirectly linked to the financial sector, including financial market-related taxes, amounted to an estimated CHF 18 billion in 2022. This corresponds to around 12% of Switzerland's total fiscal revenue.
Fig. 2: Direct and indirect economic effects of the financial sector in 2022
Focus on significance as property owners
This latest study of the Swiss financial sector also had a special focus on its significance for the real estate sector. This is because the financial sector plays various roles here. For example, banks, insurance companies and pension funds enable private households to purchase real estate, which is often only possible thanks to corresponding mortgage loans. However, insurers – especially life insurers – are far more likely to act as property owners themselves on the market and rent out residential and commercial properties. In 2022, 14.2% of all rented properties in terms of market value were attributable to pension funds and life insurers. The resulting rental income makes an important contribution to being able to meet payment obligations to customers.
Fig. 3: Real estate portfolio of Swiss pension funds, insurers and banks
Influence of opposing trends on growth forecast
The current year 2023 is characterized by the restrictive monetary policy and the weak foreign trade environment, meaning that BAK Economics is expecting subdued overall economic growth (2023: +0.5%). At the same time, insurers are currently operating in a so-called "hard market" in which scarce supply meets high demand. Insurers are benefiting from rising premium volumes and are proving to be a stable growth driver in the market (2023 +3.3%, 2024 +3.0%).
Based on rising demand for insurance - partly due to new products such as cyber insurance - BAK Economics assumes that insurers will continue to be a stable growth driver in the coming years and expects average growth of around 2.4 percent in the years 2024 to 2028. The financial sector as a whole is forecast to grow by 2.1 percent in this period, which is based on productivity gains with stagnating employment figures overall.
The importance study on the economic significance of the Swiss financial sector conducted by BAK Economics is published annually in November. It is commissioned by the Swiss Insurance Association (SIA) and the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA). It focuses on the most important key figures for the financial sector, such as value added, jobs and tax revenue.