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The Finanser’s Week: 3rd February – 9th February 2014

Our biggest stories of the past week are …

This week, I completed a five-part history of Swiss banking.  Here are the five parts:

Part One: We are Knights of the Bank Table 

Today's surprise is the story of how the Knights Templar invented modern banking and made the Swiss the best bankers in the world.

Part Two: Why the Swiss are so good at banking

I blogged about Switzerland and its origins as a financial centre, dating back to the Knights Templar. The country’s position for finance was truly reinforced during the Protestant Reformation, when the country moved to neutrality, a federated structure and an attitude towards wealth and usury that differed widely to the other dominant religions of the Medieval times.

Part Three: Why Swiss banks are no longer so private

As Switzerland proved an attractive ground for migration of the Protestants persecuted overseas, this period also created the strong movement towards neutrality from any wars or hostilities overseas – there were still many hostilities over the years between the cantons (states or counties, if you prefer) of Switzerland – and also three other key differences in Swiss life to those of other European nations.

Part Four: Is one man responsible for all Swiss banking?

In a penultimate view of the history of Swiss banking, one important dimension is why the largest Swiss banks – UBS and Credit Suisse – are based in Zurich, rather than Geneva, Basel or Bern.  Zurich. The largest town in Switzerland with a population of 400,000 people is tiny compared to London with its millions of people, but is one of the most predominant financial centres in the world thanks to the importance of Swiss banking.

Part Five: Swiss banks, the Nazis and PEPs

OK, a last and final post about Swiss bankers and then I’ll shut up.  For centuries, Switzerland has been the centre of banking in Europe.  As explained, this is due to the Knights Templar and Protestant Reformation at its heart, and is the reason that led to Voltaire (1694-1778) being quoted as saying: “If you see a Swiss banker jumping out of a window, follow him, for there is sure to be a profit in it”. 

The worst passwords ever …

“Password” is no longer the worst password with “123456,” the traditional runner up, taking the top spot, according to SplashData, provider of password management systems.  The 2013 list was influenced by the large number of passwords from Adobe users posted online by security consulting firm Stricture Consulting Group following Adobe’s security breach.  The list of frequently used passwords shows that many people continue to have risky password behaviour online by using weak, easily guessable passwords. Some other passwords in the Top Ten include “qwerty,” “abc123,” “111111,” and “iloveyou.”  Here’s the chart …

Innovation Week UK: Finovate and the Innovator's Council

This is a guest post by Mariela Atanassova, and you can save 20% on a Finovate registration (February 11-12) by entering 'FSClub2014' as your promo code when you register, and save 50% on the Bank Innovator's Council meeting (February 13) by entering 'FSC' as a promo code on registration.

The major general news stories of the past week include …  

RBS risks an Iceland-style crisis if Scots pick self-rule, warns Vince Cable – The Independent
Royal Bank of Scotland would be left more exposed than Iceland's banks at the height of their financial crisis if Scotland votes for self-rule, Vince Cable, told The Independent .        

MasterCard creates contactless pay system – Financial Times
British mobile phone groups back US credit card company’s payments platform amid latest effort to simplify fragmented ‘m-commerce’ market

FCA widens rigging probe to other benchmark rates – The Telegraph
Regulator Martin Wheatley tells MPs of investigation into claims of rigging at other major benchmark rates        

Former RBS boss Hester to lead RSA in City 'coup' – The Independent
The former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland has been handed the task of salvaging RSA's reputation following the discovery of a £200m black hole in the FTSE 100 insurer's accounts last year.        

US probe into London bankers’ Libyan deals – The Independent
The London-based bankers who allegedly cajoled Gadaffi-era Libyan officials into giving them billions of dollars to invest are now being investigated by the US criminal authorities.        

Scottish financial industry fears bill for regulation – Financial Times
Intervention by key financial services industry, which employs almost 100,000 people, comes amid opinion polls showing Yes camp gaining ground

City watchdog issues Libor warning notice for two bankers – The Independent
The new American-run Libor regime came into force today just as the City watchdog launched its first actions against individuals in the rate-setting saga.        

MasterCard: sell now, pay later – Financial Times
The real risks to credit cards are long-term: regulation and disruptive payment technology.

City sees 34 per cent rise in new jobs – Financial Times
The recent growth of roles in London’s financial services sector signals increasing confidence in the recovery’s strength, says a specialist recruiter

Anglo Irish Bank bosses face court on fraud charges – The Telegraph
Marathon trial of bailout trio on fraud charges to draw crowds        


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About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here…

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