Is the trickle about to become a flood? Financial News, the City journal, reports that tax advisers are seeing a sharp rise in inquiries from private equity bosses and hedge fund managers considering quitting the UK for Switzerland. They blame increasing regulation in London – from the UK and the EU – and the 50 per cent tax rate that next April comes into effect here on salaries above £150,000.
There's no question Switzerland has launched a charm offensive, with low-rate cantons such as Zug and Zurich even happy to negotiate individually on your treatment for tax should you be deemed worth having.
Still, while some people really are leaving the UK, a greater number of those who have threatened to leave have not yet done so; there has been a lot of talk, but much less action. Indeed, most of those in the public eye remarking on an exodus – from Crispin Odey to Jon Moulton – haven't gone yet. And some of those who have looked at moving have discovered different costs: the outlandish price of office space in Zurich, for example.
All the same, top marks to the Swiss. They may be on the verge of losing all that secret banking business, thanks to UBS's run-in with the US, but they've already spotted a new opportunity.