Case Study: The Rise of Wegelin & Co., Switzerland's Oldest Bank
New York, NY, November 11, 2009 -- A new case study co-authored by Professor Bernd Schmitt examines how Wegelin & Co., a Swiss bank that has reached star status within its region and industry, faces difficult expansion decisions as it looks towards the future.
Founded in 1741, Wegelin & Co. is Switzerland’s oldest bank. For nearly three centuries, this employee-owned company has been extraordinarily successful in managing the assets of its wealthy Swiss clients. Throughout its history, the bank has followed a time-tested investment strategy for a regional client base that it knows and understands.
Over the past two decades, Wegelin has grown drastically throughout Switzerland by maintaining its tradition while also modernizing and innovating. The company invested heavily in technology, developing such a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure that they partnered with other banks looking to outsource their technology needs. Wegelin helped increased its talent pool by offering internships and graduate programs through the University of St. Gallen. It also expanded its leadership by creating an ownership participation system. These changes paid off, and in spite of the ongoing global financial crisis, the bank is doing better today than ever before.
Now, Wegelin ponders what to do next. Should the bank exploit its uniquely strong position, and expand internationally while others are floundering? Or, should it continue to follow the domestic strategy has served it well for almost three hundred years?
Bernd Schmitt and Patrick Cettier, "The Rise of Switzerland’s Oldest Bank," Columbia CaseWorks, September 16, 2009.
To request copies of this case for academic purposes please e-mail ColumbiaCaseWorksgsb.columbia.edu.
A video interview with Bernd Schmitt discussing his work on the case is also available at: http://www.wegelin.ch/download/multimedia/Interview_ProfSchmitt_PAL_widescreen.wmv
Bernd Schmitt is Robert D.Calkins Professor of International Business at Columbia Business School, where he also directs the Center on Global Brand Leadership. He has authored or co-authored seven books which have been translated into 20 languages, including Experiential Marketing (1999), Customer Experience Management (2003), and Big Think Strategy (2007).
The Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School is the leading forum worldwide for executives and researchers addressing the challenges of building and sustaining strong brands. The Center provides today's leaders with innovative branding solutions and a global perspective through a network of partner centers at leading schools in China, Germany, Korea, Spain, and Singapore.
Assistant Director, Center on Global Brand Leadership
Columbia Business School