Pfaeffikon in Switzerland’s Schwyz canton has become a magnet for international financial services companies since lowering its corporate tax rates. About 1,000 people in this village of 7,000 inhabitants work in the field, managing $92 billion in assets. Other Swiss cantons hope to emulate the model, creating Pfaeffikon clones and dropping taxes.
It’s obvious as soon as one exits the train station that this is no ordinary Alpine village. A few cows graze to the left, while to the right stands a rather shabby 15-story residential tower. Between the two is a car dealer, where salesman Othmar Batschelet sells Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. His current showpiece is a 1955 Bentley without a price tag. A few steps further on, an old farmhouse, its window boxes overflowing with geraniums, has survived through the centuries. But it’s now surrounded by new office buildings, each more hideous than the next.