Focusing on the primary relationship, like the Swiss railroads

“My first business trip of 2016 took me on client visits in Zurich and Geneva, which allowed for a relaxing train ride across Switzerland as I travelled between the two offices. Spending ample time on trains, airplanes and taxis, I am always impressed with the accurate times schedule of the Swiss railway system. If they say they leave at 15:32, they leave at 15:32!”

With a lot of snow, there was however, a two minute delay when I got on board the train from Zurich to Lausanne, with the conductor apologising for the delay. Had it been 20 minutes I would have expected an apology, but 2 minutes I am kind of used to!

Jeroen Plag


A blog by Jeroen Plag, head of Client Coverage Americas, Asia & UK, ING, on a business trip in Switzerland.


The snow would normally mean more skiers on the Swiss slopes, but this wasn’t really the case due to the expensive Swiss franc. My Swiss colleagues are not complaining as lines at the ski lifts are definitely shorter on weekends. Ski resort operators and hotel owners however are feeling the effects of the central bank policy as there are almost 30% less German and 20% Dutch tourists this season. My favourite cappuccino at Geneva airport was double the price of that in Amsterdam, EUR 7! 

Just two weeks into the new year, the turmoil was definitely a topic of discussion. Chinese market turmoil, Iran sanctions being lifted, lack of clarity on US growth, the internet of things, Brexit and European rates - all topics on the agenda at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This annual event in Switzerland draws scores of politicians, decision makers, artists, captains of industries and entrepreneurs to discuss the most prominent issues and how to approach them across fields of interests.

As the new year has started, and our commercial banking operation was renamed to Wholesale Banking, I took the opportunity to check on some client feedback. While the rationale of the renaming exercise was fully understood, reflecting the large corporate and institutional, international offering, the main touch point for our clients remains our client facing staff – “you are not changing anything there!” As long as we keep up our primary relationship approach and engage with our clients, we will be able to keep a step ahead! 

After the Swiss railroads swished me backed smoothly and on time to Geneva airport, I had some time to browse for Swiss chocolates. Comparing prices once again I decided to buy them at a Dutch retailer instead, I am Dutch after all. I was confronted with being Dutch again when I saw the Swiss national football jersey that the team will wear in France this summer, ouch...


Follow me: @jeroenplag