Held at the Marriott in Zurich, Private Banking & Wealth Management Conference 2023 highlighted the challenges of this year and 2024 coming up and staff was a brought up more than once.

Dr Burkhard Varnholt, head of investments at Credit Suisse, a UBS Group company, discussed global markets and how they may take form in 2024.

Varnholt began by asking: “A year back, what did all the strategists in Wall Street tell us? Isn’t it interesting that none of their predictions came true?”

He also dismissed predictions of a recession, saying it was far too easy to guess that and the prediction will eventually be right, similar to how “a broken clock is right twice a day”.

However, he claimed the biggest issue private banking will face in 2024 was the “lack of staff”. It would be a difficult time for employers, but employees “would be laughing” at the state of the labour market in private banking at the moment.

He continued: “Somehow, lockdowns were a blessing in disguise as it caused everyone to digitalise. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t be where we are in terms of productivity. Growth is driven by productivity and not by helicopter money.”

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Inflation has been a global challenge in the world economy over the past year, but Varnholt was not concerned.

He said: “Inflation will continue to decline as it was a bluff in the first place.”

Furthermore, he said spending will go up as the affluent class and mature investor has never been better off and there is no reason for them to “tighten their belt”.

Earlier in the day, Stefan Kirsch, head of international private banking and managing director at Bergos Bank, presented on the future of private banking in Switzerland.

He asked: “Is private banking still a dream job? There is a question mark there.”

In addition, PBI is pleased to announce the finalists for the Private Banking Switzerland & Wealth Management Awards 2023. You can view the various categories here.