Contrary to general opinion, the financial services sector isn’t the biggest economic sector in Liechtenstein. The one-seventh of the total labour force which is employed in the sector generates around a third of the gross domestic product however, making a considerable contribution to the successful post-war development of Liechtenstein from its origins as a small and poor agricultural country to a significant financial centre. The boom which has led to the current significance of the country in the world of international finance can be traced back to a number of locational advantages:
- Political continuity and stability on both the national and international level
- Liechtenstein nestles in a safe region in Central Europe between the neutral countries of Switzerland and Austria
- A stable and modern social, legal and economic system
- Liberal economic policy
- Sound financial policy
- Investment-friendly tax and company law
- Strict banking and trustee confidentiality
- Well-developed infrastructure
- High level of self-regulation instead of excessive bureaucracy and state control
- Open borders and close cooperation with Switzerland despite membership of the EEA
15 banks are currently located in the Principality. Over the last 10 years, customer assets managed by banks have doubled, totalling more than CHF 121 billion. If allocated to the total number of employees in the banking sector (current: 2,117, adjusted for part-time staff), this corresponds to managed customer assets of more than CHF 57 million per bank employee.
Very great importance is nevertheless attached to individual and personal customer servicing. The expertise of those active in the financial sector is supplemented by a wide range of further education facilities within the country which guarantee a very high level of knowledge.
The newly created legal framework has also meant that Liechtenstein has gained in importance as an insurance centre and funds location. As a result of all this, the financial sector has experienced a diversification in its range of products. The small size of the country also allows for close co-operation between the various financial service providers (banks – trustees – assets managers – insurers – investment companies), representing yet another advantage for investors.
In conclusion, it is also to be stressed that the banking institutes in Liechtenstein are distinguished by their sound equity position, offering the best conditions from the viewpoint of depositor protection. Liechtenstein also has a depositor and investor protection system of which all banks are members.
All of these factors add up to the fact that the financial centre of Liechtenstein has been awarded the highest distinction by the international rating agencies (AAA).