Questions and answers on the SNB regional network

What are the tasks of the delegates for regional economic relations ?

The delegates for regional economic relations represent the SNB in the various regions of Switzerland.

Their task is twofold: On the one hand, they conduct personal interviews with company leaders to gather information on the course of business, which forms the basis of economic reports for the attention of the Governing Board. These surveys are carried out in the form of structured company discussions.

On the other hand, the delegates function as ambassadors of the SNB, explaining, and thereby cultivating an understanding of its monetary policy, to economic associations, local officials, and the general public.

The delegates are supported in their tasks by the Regional Economic Councils.

How long have the SNB regional delegates been in existence?

The SNB has maintained a regional presence through its network of branches and representative offices since it commenced activities in 1907. Over the years, this network has adapted to the monetary policy requirements in terms of range as well as significance and duties.

Why is Switzerland divided into eight regions for the purposes of economic monitoring?

The division into eight regions is mainly historical in nature. Originally, the SNB maintained bank offices with their own cash desks in various cities. In the course of developments in cash transactions generally, and the consequent streamlining of cash distribution, these offices were gradually reduced to two (in the Zurich and Berne headquarters). In most of the locations, however, the SNB still maintains a regional office in order to exercise a presence in the various parts of the country and to cultivate contacts with local businesses.

Why is the Principality of Liechtenstein included in the SNB's regional network under 'Eastern Switzerland'?

A currency treaty dating back to 1980 exists between Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. According to the treaty, Swiss legal and administrative regulations are effective in the Principality of Liechtenstein to the extent that they relate to monetary policy as defined by the National Bank Act. The delegates for Eastern Switzerland therefore also maintain contacts with banks in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

In what format do the delegates conduct their surveys?

The company surveys are carried out in the form of personal interviews - in conjunction with a structured discussion guide - with general managers or financial officers. Surveys by telephone are the exception.

How many company surveys are conducted per year?

Each year, the delegates carry out four survey rounds comprising approximately 1000 interviews with company representatives. Around 30 companies are visited per quarter and region.

How are companies selected for the surveys?

In each region, companies are selected according to a pattern reflecting the production structure of that region. In this way, the nationally aggregated data provide a picture of the economic trends in Switzerland.

Different companies are surveyed from one quarter to the next. As a rule, the same company is not interviewed more than once a year. And every year brings with it new representatives to the delegates' network of contacts.

Are companies obliged to participate in the surveys?

The companies' participation in the surveys is voluntary. The SNB's surveys are based on lengthy relationships with contacts, although new representatives are continually being sought.

Are the names of the companies participating in the SNB surveys made public?

Each December, the SNB publishes - with the permission of the respective company - a list of the companies which participated in that year's surveys. The list of names appears at the end of the December issue of the report on business cycle trends.

For what purpose does the SNB use the results of the company surveys?

The detailed company data collected by the SNB through its economic surveys are evaluated in terms of quality and quantity, and serve as a basis for the Governing Board's quarterly monetary policy assessment. The overall results of the surveys are published by the SNB in its Quarterly Bulletin.

Why does the SNB conduct its own company surveys?

The SNB bases its company surveys on personal interviews between the delegates and the company management. In this way, the SNB collects information - from a specific monetary policy perspective - on the course of business and the outlook of the respective companies and industries, and also informs participants - via the delegates - of its monetary policy. Aside from the collection of data, the surveys also serve to sample the general mood of the companies and offer opportunities to carry out special surveys on topical issues.

Do other central banks also conduct regional economic monitoring?

Yes, a number of central banks also conduct regional economic monitoring, and recent years have seen a considerable overall rise in interest in this area. The SNB is in contact with various central banks in this regard.

What exactly is meant by the delegate's 'ambassador' function?

The delegates collect information on monetary policy in their respective regions. To this end, they maintain ties with company representatives and local officials. The delegates give presentations on monetary policy, in particular, at schools, universities, universities of applied sciences, associations and service clubs.

What is the role of the Regional Economic Councils?

The Regional Economic Councils support the SNB delegates in monitoring economic developments in their respective regions and explaining SNB policy.

The Regional Economic Councils keep the Governing Board of the SNB informed of the economic situation and the effects of monetary policy in their respective regions. The three to four members of a Regional Economic Council are elected by the Bank Council. Persons with an impeccable reputation, business experience and recognised knowledge of the industry to which they belong are eligible for membership.

How do the delegates work with the Regional Economic Councils?

The Regional Economic Council of each region and the delegates usually convene for talks once every quarter. At these talks, the members of the Councils report on developments in their companies and on other economic activities in their scope of experience. The delegates enlarge on topical economic and monetary developments from the viewpoint of the SNB.

Is it possible to exchange banknotes at the SNB regional offices?

Swiss banknotes which have been recalled but are still exchangeable can not be exchanged at the regional offices.

Exchanging banknotes is only possible at the cash desks of the SNB head offices in Berne and Zurich, at the SNB agencies, or by post. For more information on exchanging banknotes, including relevant addresses, please consult the Instruction sheet for exchanging recalled banknotes. Further information is available on the Banknotes and coins webpage.