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Exemption from duty to affiliate to a Swiss ombudsman

By Émilie Tränkner

Exemption from duty of ombudsman affiliation for financial intermediaries exclusively providing services to institutional and per-se professional clients.

The Financial Services Act (FinSA) initially required that all financial intermediaries be affiliated to a Swiss ombudsman by 25 December 2020. On 25 September 2020, the Swiss Parliament adopted the Federal Act on the Adaptation of Federal Law to Developments in Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT bill), which subsequently modified the requirement to affiliate to an ombudsman as initially stipulated by FinSA.

The situation before this latest update was as follows: financial service providers which only provided their services to institutional or professional clients were also required to join a Swiss ombudsman by Christmas 2020, before being released from this obligation a few months later (upon expiry of the deadline to hold a referendum, i.e. 1 February 2021). Having reviewed their initial approach, the FINMA and the SIF have decided to offer a grace period during that time. The FINMA agreed not to impose the requirement during the intermediate period (i.e. between 25 December 2020 and 31 January 2021).

The respective amendment of the FinSA shall enter into force in 2021. In the future, the ombudsman affiliation requirement will only apply to those financial service providers that offer financial services to retail clients, and not those which only deal with institutional or professional clients (excluding high-net-worth retail clients who have opted-out and declared themselves as professional investors).

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