The rise of disruptive technology in Switzerland

Posting date: 09 July 2019
Technology continues to disrupt industries across the world in numerous ways; for example, the mobile phone changed the way we communicate. Then came cross-platform messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp, which nearly killed SMS. But disruptive technology doesn’t just involve replacing existing technologies; it also creates new marketplaces in itself, like Apple’s App Store and ss technology has continued to disrupt modern society, countries have been racing to keep up.

Switzerland is rated the world’s most innovative country, and is leading the way with blockchain and fintech. But why Switzerland? Heinz Tännler, President of the Swiss Blockchain Federation offers the suggestion that start-ups are attracted to Switzerland due to its legal security, world-class infrastructure and the “Crypto Valley’s” strong ecosystem.

What also makes Switzerland stand out is the government’s willingness to adopt and adapt to these industry-disrupting technologies as they emerge.

It’s important to consider what’s happening in three key industries in Switzerland including fintech, cryptocurrency and blockchain, what led to their rise and the future of these industries within Switzerland.

Fintech

The popularity of fintech in Switzerland is no surprise. The nation is a world leader in financial services, featuring an array of financial institutions and a corresponding rise in innovative banking software. In addition, huge tech corporations such as Google and IBM have set up base in Switzerland.

A lot of the fresh talent can be accounted for by Zurich and Lausanne’s first-class international universities for technology and engineering – a promising factor which may lead to the rise of innovation in the future of technology in Switzerland. This talent surplus is aided by the country’s high quality of life and salaries, attracting international talent and retaining more Swiss grads.

Fintech’s current state in Switzerland sees it act as a home to 10% of all global European fintech enterprises with 46% of those in Zurich and 30% of these offering financial services. This can be explained by the fact that Switzerland supports fintech innovation through its financial market laws and the attractively low tax model for start-ups — leaving innovators feeling supported and encouraged.

So what has the Swiss government been doing to aid the growth on fintech in the country? Thanks to The Federal Council’s sandbox exemption the start-up process is becoming more streamlined in Switzerland compared to other European countries. This means that under the Banking Act, public deposits that equal CHF 1 million or less won’t require a license requirement, and as of April 1st, 2019 this law has been extended for crowdlending business models as part of the Consumer Credits Act. The new fintech licence also became active as of the 1 st of January, 2019 which saw more lenient requirements when compared to fully-fledged banking licences — for instance, no interest needs to be paid on deposits and there are additional safeguards for customers.

Government interest in the continued growth of fintech with these new laws and the rise of new talent, means it’s no surprise that investors are biting — in particular, venture capital giants such as Index Ventures and Google Ventures.

Because of the focus on expanding this sector of finance Investments in Swiss start-ups hit the billion mark in 2018, with fintech accounting for CHF 685 million of this, making it Switzerland’s largest venture capital sector. These investments are only likely to increase, and with it, further advancements in fintech thanks to exaggerated buoyancy of government interests.

Cryptocurrency

Zug, Switzerland’s fastest-growing cryptocurrency hotspot, nicknamed “Crypto valley” has seen billions invested in the sector in just the last few years. Cryptocurrency has revolutionised financial services with its game-changing potential to increase efficiencies and decentralise services.

Zug hosts low tax rates — the entire canton charges 14% corporation tax, making it an ideal spot to build a business. Innovators seem to agree as Zug had over 750 companies with over 3,300 employees registered in it by the end of 2018.

To keep Switzerland at the forefront of finance innovation the government ensures the crypto-movement in Zurich, and other leading cities in Switzerland, thrives doing so with its’ advantageous elements of digital privacy, a stable economy and supportive IT laws, when compared to other European countries. In addition, companies have begun to form clusters to innovate their services to offer unique expertise in cryptographic and security issues.

The Swiss government is clear in its stance to embrace all forms of technical innovations, shown through the way cryptocurrencies are treated as foreign currency, meaning there is no special law based around them. In fact, Zug became the first region in the world to accept bitcoin as a form of payment for a range of governmental services and in politics, and has just successfully completed a trial of blockchain-based voting. Furthermore, it established a digital identity system built on Ethereum as part of the new “e-government” initiative which offered blockchain-based digital IDs for the 30,000 employees working in the Swiss Federal Railway.

Switzerland continues to integrate cryptocurrency into businesses, and even into government, due to its low security risk and high accessibility.

Blockchain

The biggest stakeholder in blockchain development is Switzerland’s affluent financial sector, one of the largest and most diverse in the world. SIX Group, which owns Switzerland’s Stock Exchange, is at present building a trading infrastructure for digital assets using blockchain technology.

The government is also updating financial and corporate regulations to support blockchain advancements. Oliver Bussmann, president of the Crypto Valley Association has said that Switzerland is “a global leading ecosystem for blockchain technology. To establish that, you have to work on all dimensions: start-ups, investors, governments, corporations, R&D etc. You have to bring them together.”

These factors are exactly what Switzerland’s government has considered and incorporated with the introduction of ICOs, which allow start-ups to sell digital crypto tokens to investors globally online and have accounted for over $9 billion in assets last year.

Financial security is of utmost importance in fintech, and blockchain technology provides this along with five other sources of value. These include:

1. Simplification of internal operating procedures 
2. Time-saving financial transactions
3. Optimised use of a company’s liquid assets
4. Reduced risk of fraud and efficient regulator
5. Supervised financial firm interactions 

Blockchain technology is still being developed and refined every day. It has countless possibilities for growth within the fintech industry and Switzerland’s governing parties are keen to play a leading role in cultivating innovation within its businesses.

Disruptive industries still require established recruitment

Swisslinx are market leaders in recruiting for the technology sector and financial services. We have been an established part of the recruitment landscape since 1999 and have successfully placed thousands of candidates in technology and finance roles, winning countless awards while doing so.

We also have offices internationally and a home office in the heart of innovation capital, Zurich. Our expert consultants on hand are equipped to hire the best financial services and technology candidates for your company while being trained and steered by industry-leading experts so you can recruit reliably with Swisslinx.

If you’re interested in working in these booming industries, we have exciting roles available in key tech hotspots in Switzerland, Germany and Dubai. Apply for a role with us today.

How is Switzerland responding to Covid-19?

Covid-19 continues to have a stronghold over much of the world, creating uncertainty and change in many markets, not to mention economies and lives. The virus has impacted all of us in one way or another, yet the response to it varies from person to person, country to country. The government has categorised the Swiss situation as “extraordinary”, with a raft of measures put in place to contain the coronavirus as well as protect people, businesses and the nation. So how exactly are the Swiss handling it? An extraordinary situation with extraordinary measures Because of the “extraordinary situation” label given to Switzerland’s Covid-19, authorities have been able to take over specific powers from the nation’s cantons and impose measures to restrict conditions in the country. This is the first time these legal provisions have been applied in Switzerland, with new conditions including a ban on all private and public events, and the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural spaces, sporting facilities and schools. Business providing essential services – such as grocery and food stores, pharmacies, post offices and banks – remain open and serving the public.Recommendations and restrictions While stopping short of some of the stricter enforcement measures other countries are imposing on its people, Switzerland has issued very clear guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. These include a recommendation to all citizens to stay at home unless necessary, particularly those who are sick or aged 65 and older, as well as announcing a nationwide ban on gatherings of more than five people. Some individual cantons have taken this further, forbidding over-65-year-olds from leaving their homers outside of specific circumstances. Borders are closed and the message is clear: stay home and be sensible. Economic support Switzerland has been a world leader when it comes to supporting its businesses, announcing a CHF20 billion package of emergency loans to support small businesses on March 25 and disbursing more than CHF15 billion to just over 76,000 companies within the first week, prompting Bern to double the initial package. This will provide relief to companies with liquidity problems, allowing those hit by the crisis to defer payment of social insurance contributions temporarily. The measures also apply to the self-employed. The scheme has been viewed to be so successful in terms of efficiency and speed that Swiss banks and government have been liaising with European counterparts to share information on the scheme’s structure. In many cases, business loans have been granted and money made available within 24 hours of completing the simple online application, a level of efficiency that was been widely applauded by the business community. Like other nations in Europe and worldwide, Switzerland has responded to the economic implications of Covid-19 by offering support to companies whose employees are facing reduced hours due to a lack of work. Currently one quarter of Switzerland’s workers are on reduced hours (short-time working) in a bid for businesses to save costs without making redundancies. Employees are compensated 80% for the loss of income caused by this, with an unemployment insurance fund helping to cover the shortfall. More testing, earlier While the rate of cases in Switzerland is high, the nation is proving to be one of the world’s most successful countries in dealing with the pandemic’s later stages. Authorities started in February by testing people who had travelled from high risk areas or had come into contact with an infected person, but this approach intensified as the virus spread. The population is now being tested at a higher rate than any other country and potential cases are being tested earlier, with a strong focus on high-risk groups. This is a more comprehensive strategy than what is being seen in the United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world.Public sentiment The vast majority of people in Switzerland are following the government measures, according to a Swiss Broadcasting Corporation survey, with the nation’s sense of civic responsibility ensuring people take the social isolation guidelines seriously. Just under 70% of survey respondents say they are optimistic that Swiss hospitals can cope with the number of patients, with 40% of respondents in favour of relaxing the Government-imposed restrictions. With these restrictions currently extended until April 26, time will tell what other developments will unfold this month and over the course of the year. Supporting our candidates and clients While it is too early to say how the coronavirus situation will impact recruitment in Switzerland long-term, we are already feeling some ripples. Contract workers have already been impacted by Switzerland’s closed borders, with some who were preparing to take up contracts in the country now shut out due to not having the required permits. This has led to more recruitment from within the Swiss market, with predictions that permits will be limited post-Covid-19 as a response to increased unemployment.  Swisslinx has been able to facilitate workers starting on a remote basis under the border closure situation changes, while the Swiss authorities are providing flexibility around the rules applicable to remote workers by allowing them to stay on CH contracts despite working abroad. Some of Swisslinx’s key clients have offered solutions to ensure workers are paid in full. These include encouraging flexibility for remote work, compensating part of the employer costs in cases of short-time working compensation, and honouring contracts and finding solutions to enable these. There has been a natural slowdown in recruitment activity in some markets while others are thriving, and the rise of virtual interview tools and techniques has helped to ensure candidates and companies can continue to be active in their search. Meanwhile, as workers around the country adopt to new working-from-home measures, we might see new ways of doing business emerge from this pandemic, bringing new meaning to flexible working. At Swisslinx, our team is hard at work to ensure our candidates and clients can continue to make contact and work together. For us, it’s business as usual – albeit from home – and we’re always looking to hear from anyone considering their next steps. Contact us here to start a conversation about how we can help.

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How to get your first executive job

It’s widely reported that more than 50% of jobs aren’t advertised, and this proportion stretches much higher when it comes to executive roles. Therefore, landing your first executive job will be an entirely different process from any other job you’ve gone after. With fewer executive roles on the market, securing one of these coveted positions can be a highly competitive process. You need to strategise how you will distinguish yourself and position yourself on executive recruiters’ radars. Here’s our advice on getting your first executive job, right from the point of personal development up to preparing for your interview: Develop your personal brand  45% of executives agree that a CEO’s reputation will directly impact the reputation of the company. So it will come as no surprise that an executive’s reputation – or personal brand – comes under serious consideration during the hiring process. Just as it’s important for any company’s success to have a strong brand, your personal brand is a powerful way of showing hiring managers why you’re a good fit for the role. When portrayed correctly your brand will highlight your ROI and specifically how you will add value to the organisation if you get the job. Since many professionals at this level work with Personal Branding Strategists and Career Coaches you can’t afford to leave your reputation as just an afterthought. Your personal brand should be crafted so that it accurately reflects not just who you are but how you solve problems, your authority areas and ultimately what your unique positioning is. Though this may seem a daunting process, Blue Step’s Global Guide to Personal Branding for Executives offers helpful advice, starting with the question “What do you want to be known for?”. Start by asking yourself this and the rest of your approach should come easily. Get personal with an executive search firm On average it takes 71 days to place a C-suite candidate, which is considerably longer than the 43 days spent filling the average role. But for the job seeker, finding an executive role can sometimes take six months – or longer - because these senior positions aren’t as common as the jobs you’ve searched for before. So you need to position yourself on executive recruiters’ radars and you want them to know you on a personal level. One way of doing this is to share your career goals with these expert recruiters. As they’re in the business of finding candidates for executive roles they can provide insight as to whether you have the right skill set or experience. If they advise that you need more time to hone your leadership skills, don’t despair - you now have that contact at an executive search firm to reach out to once you’ve hit the necessary experience level. These recruiters have seen thousands of CVs and applications so you can trust their verdict. Remember that it’s about nurturing these relationships with executive recruiters. You won’t land a job in a few weeks, it can take months to find the right executive role so you need to stay in touch with them. Get networking  The Executive Career Brand reports that only 10% of executives are hired from job board advertisements. This supports the notion that your chance of getting an executive job is heavily reliant on networking and a great place to begin is by developing a strong online presence. It’s no new information that your LinkedIn profile is a powerful tool in the job-hunting process but have you considered optimising yours for search engines? To improve your LinkedIn profile’s visibility you need to include targeted skills and keywords, set your location and industry, and use all the characters available in each section. This will ensure executive recruiters find your profile and will help you make connections in your field of work. Consider upping your game and establish yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn by posting and sharing articles on topics in your industry. Beyond the digital world, you should be attending industry conferences and reaching out to old contacts. After all, networking isn’t always about making new connections. Time for the interview You’ve put a lot of time into your personal development and nurturing connections – the next step is impressing at the interview stage. A good executive recruiter will only put forward a very small number of candidates for roles at this level, most of which will have exclusivity, so if you make it to interview stage you have a strong chance of securing the role. Now all that’s left to do is show the company how serious you are about working for them and improving their bottom line. Beyond a deep understanding of the organisation's verticals, the current state of the market and opportunities for you to add value, you should also research the business's financial status and their current challenges. Some businesses will have an investor relations tab on their website which will tell you a lot about how they are performing. To delve a little further, search their company filings and public financial statements - and if the company you’re interviewing for is private you can get a good picture of their status from news releases and articles. As for the competitors, beyond knowing who they are you need to search how the company is performing compared to them and what they have in the pipeline. Having this knowledge for the interview will show that you’re invested in the company and will allow you to have a genuine conversation about what you plan to do within your first three months. Think of this research as background information to create your 90-day plan.Take your next career step with Swisslinx Want more advice on finding your first executive job? As a market-leading recruitment firm in Switzerland, our expert consultants can offer valuable guidance when looking for your next senior-level position. Whether you’re job searching in financial services, digital and technology, or healthcare and life sciences we’ve got two decades of insight to help you.

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