My Swiss bank account

swiss bank account

I fulfilled a lifelong dream yesterday by opening a Swiss bank account.

I took my place alongside Mitt Romney and countless others over the years who have longed for that special feeling. I took a part of my personal fortune, earned from years of shoveling snow, mowing lawns, and delivering newspapers, and put it in the safest, most reliable place I could think of, a country that has been known for its banking since the Middle Ages.

I now have a numbered account, but only in the sense that my account has a number, not in the sense that my account is secret, known only by its number, because it’s not.

In fact, I opened my account at one of the dwindling number of Swiss banks now interested in taking money from U.S. citizens. After years – centuries, in fact – of banking secrecy, the Swiss government recently agreed to change the way it does business. The U.S. authorities who pay attention to this sort of thing can now find out pretty quickly how big my fortune really is, should they be interested, which seems unlikely.

But my experience yesterday was a letdown for another reason. I have clearly seen too many movies starring people like Matt Damon who are fawned over and pampered as soon as they walk in the door. When I arrived yesterday no one asked me if I perhaps might like an espresso.

No, my experience, I have to say, was like going to the post office because, well, I did go to the post office. That’s where I opened my account.

Swiss Post is a lot like the U.S. Postal Service in that I’m pretty sure mail is delivered, but Swiss Post does a great deal more, such as offering bank accounts to Americans who need to stash their personal fortunes somewhere.

As I waited my turn in line, I noticed that the Swiss post office also sells lottery tickets, cell phones, other electronics, and candy. Beyond that Swiss Post owns a transportation system and has recently developed an electronic identity system. It is the second largest employer in the country.

So, the saga continues. This is quite a learning experience.

(For a well-researched, as well as humorously-told, article about Swiss banking, click here.)

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.


12 Responses to My Swiss bank account

  1. Dennis Ulmer February 8, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    Doug, it’s very interesting to read about your adjusting to life outside the U.S. Since the U.S. Postal Service is losing so much money, maybe they should take a lesson from the Swiss and go into banking too. After all, the way stamps keep increasing in cost, you’ll soon need to dip into your savings to buy a book of stamps! I enjoy your posts as always. Take care.

    • Doug February 8, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      It’s good to hear from you, Dennis … as always. It’s good to know another early riser too!

  2. Clark Ellis February 8, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    The reason the Postal Service here is failing is because of mis management. Their perks are the same as our Congress.
    Now Swiss accounts are good I guess but if you put your money in a Puerto Rican bank it is non taxable.
    Im glad you are enjoying your new position.

    • Doug February 8, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      Clark, I wish we could pin the blame solely on mismanagement, but I fear the problem is with a model that is at least a century out of date. Even with the most brilliant managers, the USPS isn’t going to be fixed. Too bad. And I apparently wasn’t paying attention to Puerto Rico. I had no idea their economy was in crisis. I can only pay attention to so many world crises at a time. I hope this finds you well!

  3. Bob Sadowski February 8, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Still very cool to have a Swiss bank Account/

    • Doug February 8, 2014 at 11:40 am #

      Well, it was good for a blog post, wasn’t it? Good to hear from you, Bob!

  4. Georgia Hamilton February 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm #


    I laughed audibly as I started reading your post. In fact, I insisted Kent listen as I read aloud, tho I could hardly get through it as I was chuckling every few minutes I too enjoy your posts—you never disappoint!


    • Doug February 9, 2014 at 12:15 am #

      Thanks, Georgia. Am glad to provide some laughter during a rough Chicago winter!

  5. Barb Keith February 9, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Getting ready to attend church.
    It’s Scottish Sunday…
    Wish you and Susan were here!

    • Doug February 10, 2014 at 8:38 am #

      I hope someone wore a kilt this year! Mine was hanging in the pastor’s closet.

  6. Maio Chen February 10, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    Sorry to disappoint you, but, even you are out of the age to be an army recruit, I can say— Uncle Sam Needs YOU!
    You might think that you are too small a fish to attract attention, but man, that Swiss bank account might just do it. I know it because we got audited a couple years back. Of course, being a law-abiding citizen, we came out of it unscathed. Actually, more than unscathed: the IRS decided that we deserved a $4000 refund. After the champagne cork was popped, we started worrying— my godness, what are we doing wrong with our tax return?


    • Doug February 10, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Maio, I’m honored that you read my blog! (Now my other readers are going to wonder why I’m not honored when they read my blog.) Thanks for the reminder that I am not out of the reach of Uncle Sam. There might even be something suspicious about a humble minister opening a Swiss bank account. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. We’ve done our best to comply with tax laws over the years, so … how do you say “famous last words” in Swiss German? … I’m not too concerned.

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