100 Years of EY Switzerland: Trust as added value for a better working world

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  • EY Switzerland celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2017
  • Anniversary year kicks off with book launch and podium discussion about the future of the Swiss economy
  • The history of EY, the Big Four and the Swiss economy now a fascinating book

ZURICH, 9 MARCH 2017 ‒ This year, EY Switzerland looks back on a success story that began in Switzerland 100 years ago: the auditing and advisory firm called “Verwaltungs-, Revisions- und Treuhand AG” was founded in Basel by the Basler Handelsbank on 12 March 1917. From this company, following many changes and mergers, EY Switzerland as we know it today came into being. As one of the leading Swiss auditing and advisory firm, it employs some 2,700 staff from 61 countries at 11 locations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. EY Switzerland used the occasion of its anniversary to write up its history: Prof. Tobias Straumann and Adrian Lemmenmeier, who teach economic history at the University of Zurich and the University of Basel, have authored a fascinating narrative about the evolution of auditing and consulting in Switzerland. “The history of the auditing and advisory sector reflects the development of the economy over the past century and is a history of constant change shaped by mergers, growth, consolidation, internationalization and expansion. But there is one thing that we are most proud of at EY: our enduring independence,” says Bruno Chiomento, Chairman of the Board of Directors of EY Switzerland. “Since 1917, generations of colleagues have helped the economy function more smoothly - inspired by their passion for the best leadership and bolstered by their deep expertise. We would like to thank all of our current and past employees for their dedicated service to our clients and the Swiss economy,” he adds.

Established in Basel 100 years ago
The auditing and advisory company, EY, has its beginnings in Verwaltungs-, Revisions- und Treuhand AG, which was founded by the Basler Handelsbank in Basel on 12 March 1917, and employed fewer than a dozen people during its early years. This company then became Allgemeine Treuhand AG (ATAG), and after many changes and mergers is the company we now know as EY Switzerland, an internationally integrated auditing and advisory company. “If there's one thing EY Switzerland has clearly demonstrated, it's its own adaptability. Our culture is defined by our desire to provide the best customer service, to form highly capable teams from well-trained staff and to combine our local roots with the advantages of a solid global organization. I am convinced that EY will continue its sustainable growth trajectory in the future,” says Bruno Chiomento.

From a small trust company to an internationally integrated organization
The decisive growth period for the company began in the wake of the post-World War II economic boom and continued on the back of burgeoning globalization and internationalization. Even before this impressive phase of expansion, though, ATAG had carved out for itself a special role in Switzerland’s auditing and fiduciary sector. ATAG struck out on its own as early as in 1945, when the Basler Handelsbank was obliged to close its doors. The other major trust companies did not take this step until they came under regulatory pressure at the end of the 1980s. ATAG diversified its service range and focused on mid-sized companies. This tradition continues today and is honored once a year with the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ competition for companies.

The advent of the 8th EU Directive on the independence of auditors from their clients, integration into the global Ernst & Young network and the new Swiss stock corporation law of 1991 saw the structure, the product range and the name of the company change. At the end of the last century, management once again turned its focus to the core business and fully exploited the advantages of its international network. What’s more, EY Switzerland was able to strengthen its position through the merger with Arthur Andersen in 2002.

EY evolves as integrated transformations advisor
Like the rest of the Big Four, EY’s growth this decade has primarily been in the advisory field: following the global financial crisis, many companies were in great need of external advisors in order to keep up with the rapidly changing environment and to properly apply the new, complex regulations. “Our 100-year history is proof that EY has always remained a robust and flexible company - even in times of crisis. Today we see ourselves as integrated transformation advisors who guide companies through the new digital reality, ranging from strategy, the operational business model, financial and controlling systems to IT architecture and change management. We also took auditing from a purely review tool and developed it into a comprehensive controlling tool which shows corporate managers their risks and opportunities and offers clear added value,” explains Marcel Stalder, CEO of EY Switzerland.

Book launch and podium discussion
EY Switzerland’s 100-year history has been written up by economic historians Prof. Tobias Straumann and Adrian Lemmenmeier from the University of Zurich using interviews and archival research. “The history of EY Switzerland shows how dramatic the structural change in the sector and the entire Swiss economy has been over the last 30 years. No stone has been left unturned,” says Tobias Straumann. The book, which will also be available in stores, covers the development of the sector as a whole and presents fascinating parallels to Switzerland’s economic history, featuring a host of interesting findings.

EY Switzerland is also using the occasion of its anniversary to look into the future and ask what we can learn from the economic history of the past 100 years. Prof. Tobias Straumann will hold a discussion on this topic at two exclusive book launch events in Zurich (9 March) and Lausanne (16 March). Afterwards a panel of leading experts will discuss what impact digitalization has on various sectors, what role the Big Four will play in the future and how Switzerland can make itself an attractive location.

Activities planned for our anniversary year
EY will also actively seek dialog with its clients, employees and partners in order to prepare itself for close cooperation in the future. Like globalization and regulation, digitalization will be the next new challenge faced by the world of business. It is also driving major changes in the advisory sector: EY will hold numerous interesting talks on future issues followed by discussions at various events throughout the year.


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About the global EY organization

The global EY organization is a market leader in auditing, tax, transaction, legal and other advisory services. With our experience, know-how and services we promote faith and trust in the world’s financial markets and economies. Thanks to a combination of well-trained employees, strong teams, outstanding services and excellent customer relations, we are superbly placed to tackle these challenges. Building a better working world: Our global promise is to drive progress forward in a profitable manner for the good of our employees, clients and society as a whole.

The global EY organization is made up of the member companies of Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG). Each EYG member firm is a separate legal entity and has no liability for another such entity’s acts or omissions. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide any services to clients. Further information can be found on our website at www.ey.com.

The EY organization is represented in Switzerland by Ernst & Young AG, Basel, at ten locations, as well as by Ernst & Young AG, Vaduz, in Liechtenstein. In this publication, “EY” and “we” refer to Ernst & Young AG, Basel, a member of Ernst & Young Global Limited.