ZURICH Britain's planned departure from the European Union opens the door for a UK-Swiss deal covering financial services, the head of one of Switzerland's biggest private banks said on Thursday.
Following a clamp-down on tax evasion which has eroded the impact of Switzerland's bank secrecy laws, Swiss private banks are increasingly setting up branches abroad to attract new clients.
Boris Collardi, chief executive at Julius Baer, Switzerland's third-biggest private bank behind UBS (UBSG.S) and Credit Suisse (CSGN.S), said Brexit could be a catalyst for deal covering Swiss and UK financials firms.
"It is imaginable that Brexit represents a chance for improved mutual market access between Switzerland and Britain in financial matters," Collardi, speaking as chairman of the Association of Swiss Asset and Wealth Management Banks, said in a speech.
Non-EU member Switzerland trades with the EU through a web of more than 100 sectoral agreements, although this does not include financial services. Switzerland's banking sector has been battling for more than half a decade to win full access to the EU market.
Collardi said a UK-Swiss deal could set a positive precedent for Swiss-EU relations.
Diplomats say Swiss talks with Britain continue under Bern's strategy of bolstering direct ties with London, but British elections in June and its continuing EU membership until formal Brexit are holding up any substantial progress. No deal is likely until after Britain leaves the EU.
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)