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Clarity on Entrepreneurs

Driving forces behind the Swiss economy

Clarity in 100 seconds

Swiss SMEs: trends and challenges

Which issues are affecting Swiss SMEs? Which trends and challenges are currently shaping the market? KPMG keeps tabs on the latest trends in the Swiss economy: from innovative start-ups to traditional family-run businesses to medium-sized enterprises.

Blog

Swiss family businesses focus on innovation

The latest issue of the European Family Business Barometer, a joint annual publication by European Family Businesses and KPMG, reveals a promising development for family businesses in Switzerland.

Swiss family businesses focus on innovation: Our survey revealed that 92 percent invest in new technologies
Reto Benz, Head of the Swiss Market Regions
Digitalization
61
of family businesses consider adapting their business models a challenge

Half of the survey’s respondents feel either confident or very confident about the next twelve months. 46 percent of those surveyed confirmed that they had boosted their sales in the past year and 30 percent of the companies reported that their sales had remained steady over that same period.

The overall study revealed that three quarters of European family businesses felt confident or very confident about the prospects for their family business over the next year. At the same time, however, family businesses in Switzerland are faced with numerous challenges – with the biggest being the war for talent, high non-wage labor costs, increased competition and declining profitability.

Export-oriented companies are paying special attention to the relationship between Switzerland and the EU, protectionist tendencies in the US and general geopolitical uncertainties. Many of Switzerland’s traditional trading partners have become more unpredictable: Germany was left without a government for an extended period of time, Great Britain is very possibly on the verge of a “hard” Brexit and both France and Italy are caught in a reform deadlock.

Of the companies surveyed in Switzerland, 38 percent are planning to expand and diversify their products in order to promote future growth. Nearly half are planning investments in internationalization, while 85 percent of the Swiss respondents are investing in their core business. 92 percent of those surveyed are making investments in innovation and technology, whereas 77 percent are investing in recruitment and training.

The biggest digitalization-related challenge cited by 61 percent of the Swiss family businesses is adapting their business models. All things considered, these companies feel that digitalization offers huge business opportunities. Conversely, it also forces companies to rethink their business models, poses quite substantial risks due to cybercrime and requires that additional efforts be made in the area of data protection.

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Interview

What is currently of foremost concern to Swiss SMEs?

Which topics currently preoccupy Swiss SMEs the most? Reto Benz talks about the multifaceted Swiss SME landscape and takes a close look at the concrete pressures small and mid-size businesses are under.

Many of Switzerland’s traditional trading partners have become more unpredictable
Reto Benz, Head of the Swiss Market Regions
Portrait of Reto Benz

Swiss SMEs form the backbone of our economy. Reto Benz outlines the challenges currently facing local companies and explains how KPMG can offer support.

Which topics are currently preoccupying Swiss SMEs most?

Given that it’s already impacted every part of the Swiss economy, including SMEs, digital transformation is definitely the big one. Digitalization offers huge business opportunities, but it also forces companies to rethink their business models. Other major challenges include the regulatory burden, growing legal uncertainty – such as in connection with the pending corporate tax reform (TRAF) – and the ongoing shortage of skilled labor. Export-oriented companies are paying special attention to the relationship between Switzerland and the EU, protectionist tendencies in the US and general geopolitical uncertainties. Many of Switzerland’s traditional trading partners have become more unpredictable.

Which range of challenges are you seeing at these companies?

“Multifaceted” is a term that not only applies to Switzerland in general, but also to its SME landscape and the challenges faced by these enterprises. While start-ups are chiefly concerned about financing and tax-related topics, family-run businesses often grapple with issues related to succession planning. Digitalization in general might affect each and every company, yet the various industries are finding themselves confronted with different aspects of it.

What kind of support does KPMG offer medium-sized companies in Switzerland?

We are present at eleven locations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein where we offer high-quality audit, tax, legal, accounting, payroll and advisory services. Our clients benefit from our local roots, our multidisciplinary services and our affiliation with KPMG’s international network.

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Local roots, global network

Are you looking for reliable expertise in your segment? Our regional and multidisciplinary teams will help you successfully address each and every one of your business challenges. KPMG has local roots at eleven locations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein which are part of an international network of 154 member firms. We act as your sparring partner and a peer who will guide you through every stage of your business development journey, from founding to succession planning. We work together with you to develop personal, cost-effective and pragmatic solutions – perfectly tailored to meet your precise needs.

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KPMG locations worldwide
Lausanne
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David Oberson
Partner, Office Head Lausanne
Berne
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Hans Jürg Steiner
Partner, Head of the Market Region Berne-Mittelland
Geneva
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Yvan Mermod
Partner, Office Head Geneva
Neuenburg
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Fabien Perrinjaquet
Director, Co-Head of the Market Region Neuchâtel, Jura and Bernese Jura
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Valérie Reymond Benetazzo
Director, Co-Head of the Market Region Neuchâtel, Jura and Bernese Jura
Basel
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Claudio Boller
Partner, Head of the Market Region Basel
Zurich
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Roman Wenk
Partner, Head of the Zurich Market Region
St. Gallen
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Peter Michael
Partner, Head of the Market Region Eastern Switzerland
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Hans Vils
Partner, Office Head Schaan, KPMG Switzerland / Liechtenstein
Lugano
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Lorenzo Job
Partner, Head of the Canton of Ticino Market Region
Zug
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Thomas Affolter
Partner, Head of the Central Switzerland Market Region
Lucerne
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Thomas Affolter
Partner, Head of the Market Region Central Switzerland
Lausanne
Berne
Geneva
Neuenburg
Basel
Zurich
St. Gallen
Schaan
Lugano
Zug
Lucerne
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Pressure to innovate

Automation

Digitalization

Regulation

Talent management

New business models

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Your contacts in the regions

At KPMG, you benefit from a locally based central contact, who combines their comprehensive understanding of your regional market with the knowledge and experience of a global firm.

Claudio Boller

Partner, Head of the Basel Market Region
“The tri-border region presents special challenges for SMEs but also offers many unique opportunities. KPMG Basel has the right answers to all the most important questions – including cross-border issues related to Switzerland’s neighboring countries.”
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Hans Jürg Steiner

Partner, Head of the Berne-Mittelland Market Region
“Having a good local and international network is essential for companies in the Bern-Mittelland region and their owners. That’s why KPMG is the right partner when it comes to audit, tax and legal matters of all kinds as well as for general advisory services.”
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Peter Michael

Partner, Head of the Eastern Switzerland Market Region
“As a border region, Eastern Switzerland is an important base for export-oriented companies. Companies are struggling to cope with the challenges of increasing globalization and new regulatory requirements, particularly in the areas of industrial production and financial services. We can help.”
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Hans Vils

Partner, Office Head Schaan, KPMG Switzerland / Liechtenstein
“The world of business is changing constantly so our clients rely on our highly developed skills and know-how. We offer insights into global trends and developments, the world’s best practices – which we then enrich with our local expertise – and we have the ability to implement groundbreaking projects right here in Liechtenstein.”
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Lorenzo Job

Office Managing Partner, Head of the Canton of Ticino Market Region
“Ticino is one of Switzerland’s most attractive locations for export-oriented companies. Our extensive experience has given us insights into many success factors as well as a portfolio of best practice case studies. These, in turn, put us in a position to provide you with the assistance you need on every important matter related to Audit, Tax and Advisory, at both the local and global level.”
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Hélène Béguin

Member of the Board of Directors / Head of the Western Switzerland Market Region
“Many SMEs in Western Switzerland have both a national and an international presence. They form the dynamic, successful economic framework that characterizes our region. KPMG supports you as a partner and helps you navigate challenges with enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism.”
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Thomas Affolter

Partner, Head of the Central Switzerland Market Region
“Central Switzerland is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country and a heterogeneous economic region featuring a synergetic blend of traditional and modern elements. It is home to both international companies and a multitude of domestic family businesses. We are well-versed with your specific challenges and have a staff of 85 on site who would be more than happy to assist you.”
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Roman Wenk

Partner, Head of the Zurich Market Region
“Zurich is the economic driving force of Switzerland. Not only that, but our region is also one of the most attractive locations around the world, both for global corporations and for small and medium-sized enterprises. I’m always impressed by the innovative strength, high quality and efficiency of these Swiss companies.”
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Your contact for the Swiss market

KPMG Switzerland

Reto Benz

Head of the Swiss Market Regions
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Annual report 2018
Business development in the individual regions was both stable and sustainable. The firm generates around 40 percent of its net revenues in the mid-size market segment.
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Tax reform: tangibly close
The new package (TRAF) promises stability and legal certainty. Which measures do you consider relevant? Use our impact assessment.
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KPMG Voice
Relevant news from your industry. Our specialists explain the issues affecting the Swiss economy.
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