Copyright 2012 by John T. Reed

One way to own Swiss francs is to simply buy some Swiss francs in cash from your local American bank.

I am trying to avoid that because it offers no protection from Swiss franc inflation. Bank accounts typically pay interest to offset local inflation. For example, my U.S. and Canadian bank accounts pay little interest because there is little inflation there. But my New Zealand and Australian bank accounts pay 3% and 5% because they have inflation around those rates there.

If there is deflation, which there has been at times in Swiss francs in recent years (when you go to that link, change the date range to 2009 to 2012), just owning the cash actually pays a positive real return. You can buy more stuff with them whe you take the money out than you could when you bought them.

I got my Canadian bank account by asking a Canadian friend of my wife for a referral to her local suburban banker. I got my Australian and New Zealand banks by asking graduate school classmates from New Zealand for referrals to their local bankers.

My section (85 people) at Harvard Business School had a Germans, French, a Korean, a South African, two Indians, a Belgian, a Northern Irelander, an Iranian, a Brazilian (after hearing that Brazilians died in a sky-diving accident, a blond sobbed and asked, “How many is a Brazilian?”), a Canadian, a Brit (who later became Benjamin Netanyahu’s second wife), and a New Zealander. So I have potential connections in a lot of places, but no Swiss sectionmates.

So if any of you have a Swiss banker and would be willing to give me his or her name and contact information, I would appreciate it. my email is If and when my money gets into such an account, I will be glad to send you a free copy of one of my books—your choice of which one.

My Canadian banker, as I have mentioned before, is James Curran, Bank of Montreal, Vancouver, Canada Financial Service Manager
Transit 0004, 595 Burrard Street, Vancouver, B.C. V7X-1L7
Tel: 604-665-7175
Fax: 604-665-6614

My Australian and New Zealand bankers have not volunteered that is would be okay to publicize their names so I do not.

I will not publicize the name of the Swiss banker either unless he or she wants me to.

I also need a banker in Denmark but I am focused on Switzerland—one country at a time—at present.

Opening foreign bank accounts seems to be no big deal in general, but it is unusual so you need so extra oomph like a referral from a friend. Just coming into an 800-number or web site seems ineffective at getting the job done. The people who work at those locations have no training about U.S. residents wanting bank accounts in their non-U.S. bank and currency. A banker to whom you are referred may not have the training either, but because you were referred by a friend or customer, they will take the extra effort to make some calls within the bank and find the right person who handles such accounts on a daily basis.

I am not looking for one of the infamous secret, numbered Swiss bank accounts. You have to go there in person to open one of those.

I just want an ordinary savings account denominated in Swiss francs with no secrecy. Those can be opened without visiting the country in question using notarized copies of passports and such. My goal is preservation of capital, not yield. I have reported my Canadian account to the U.S. government as required and will continue to do that and add my Australian and New Zealand bank accounts next reporting period. If and when I get Swiss and Danish bank accounts, I will also report them to the U.S. government annually as required.

I tried calling the 800-number of the Royal Bank of Canada because they have a Swiss branch. I found out what my readers encounter when they do the same. A guy who was befuddled and said he never had such a call before in his career. He acknowledged that they did have a Swiss branch—although I think he found that out by Googling it while he was talking to me on the phone. He guessed it was just for large amounts—“wealth management”—and for Canadians who lived in Switzerland. I asked what the minimum amount was. He did not know.

So I see how some of you concluded it cannot be done, but I am not ready to give up that easily. I am an entrepreneur. Opening a foreign bank account is apparently a bit of an entrepreneurial activity. That means you must persist and keep trying new approaches until you figure it out.

UBS, the biggest Swiss bank apparently has a publicized no-American-accounts policy after being jerked around by the IRS.

John T. Reed