Switzerland: Unlocking the secrets of success

Ruth Holmes spoke to Daniel Bangser, director of US investment promotion for Switzerland Global Enterprise, about the reasons for the country’s attractiveness for expatriates and employers.

Switzerland
Ranking number one across the economic indicators of 2015's HSBC Expat Explorer survey, and tenth overall, Switzerland is one of the world's most popular destinations for internationally mobile talent.Its appeal is easy to see. More than four in five (83 per cent) expats in Switzerland believe their job security is better than, or as good as, in their home country, and a further 77 per cent are confident in the Swiss economy.Work-life balance is good, too, with 59 per cent believing it is better than in their home country."Switzerland really is one of the happiest nations," says Daniel Bangser, director of US investment promotion for Switzerland Global Enterprise, which promotes US investment for the Swiss government's trade and investment agency. "It is a great place to live, and offers great worklife balance. It offers interesting cities, great culture, and when you are in the mountains, you can be in a different country again."Such an environment ticks the boxes for many internationally mobile highflyers, especially since the country is the headquarters location for many multinational companies. Assignments here are often regarded as a career fast track and attract the best talent, with Switzerland ranking eighth globally in the Expat Explorer survey for career advancement.

People first

Describing Switzerland's appeal to international investors and mobile workers looking for career satisfaction, Daniel Bangser explains that people are the critical factor in the country's economic success and its reputation as a low-risk, high-return investment destination."In terms of what is important to investors in Switzerland, the number one, the most important, is people," says Mr Bangser. "Investors know if they don't have the right people in place, they won't succeed. It is a fact that in Switzerland there are highly skilled people at all levels. Companies need the right people for the job across the board."The Swiss workforce is well educated, and apprenticeships are embedded in educational establishments at every level and sector, and are very well regulated. The system operates in a way that drives people into the pipeline, which works for the benefit of companies."Allied to its favourable education and financial infrastructures, the all important global mind set is also a key asset to the country as it seeks to further develop and sustain its global appeal."Companies in Switzerland handle US, Asian and European business," says Daniel Bangser. "Investors here want to know they can comfortably speak English, and that there will be no big culture clash. There are people from 165 nationalities working in Switzerland, and business English is the common language in international headquarters based here."

Innovation

Switzerland is one of the world's most innovative economies, adding to its attractiveness for investors and expatriates. In INSEAD's Global Innovation Index, it took the accolade as the world's most innovative economy again in 2015, ahead of two other European economies, the UK (2) and Sweden (3).Switzerland also maintained its number-one ranking in the World Economic Forum's newly published World Competitiveness Index 2015/16, a position it has held since 2010."The Swiss business environment has a highly innovative atmosphere," says Daniel Bangser. "Companies investing in Switzerland prosper faster and succeed quicker, which reduces the risk for international investors."Our culture of innovation is attracting leading firms from diverse sectors, including nanotechnology, technology [Google], medical technology [Bristol-Myers Squibb and Zimmer], engineering, and fashion [Fossil Group]."Google, for example, developed its European mapping and Gmail services in Switzerland. Making further significant investments in recent years, the company's European Engineering Centre in Zurich is now home to Google employees from 75 countries.Coupled with the good quality of life, such economic factors and innovative environments reduce the risks to international investors.These features also mean that investors are well placed to capitalise on the wealth of skills available locally, and to attract those from the global talent pool – both critical components in Switzerland's success.For more Europe-focused articles, see the Autumn 2015 issue of Europe Digital Re:locate magazine. Click here to subscribe, or here to download as an app.For more Re:locate news and features on international assignments, click here and for more on Switzerland, click here

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