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Efficient solutions from ACOLIN to meet the new FinSA/FinIA requirements in Switzerland

By Émilie Tränkner

The Financial Services Act (FinSA) and Financial Institutions Act (FinIA) (came into force on 1 January, 2020) are a part of the new financial market architecture in Switzerland. Both Acts aim to create uniform competitive conditions for financial intermediaries and improve investor protection. On July 7, 2020 FINMA announced the start of implementation of FinSA and FinIA by authorising the first organisations responsible for the supervision of portfolio managers and trustees. It has also authorised the first registration body for client advisors. Furthermore, the Federal Department of Finance has recognised the first ombudsman’s offices for financial service providers. 

In light of this announcement, we would like to explain how ACOLIN can help to efficiently meet the new legal requirements in Switzerland. You can avoid struggling with long and complicated legal texts by using our simple online questionnaire to understand your specific needs.

Our proposal in a nutshell 

ACOLIN developed an online questionnaire accessible to fund managers & distributors affected by the new regulation. Answer a few multiple choice questions, and we will come back to you with a clear and quick overview of your specific requirements to comply with FinIA/FinSA (need for ombudsman, registration of advisors, representative etc). We will also provide a personal tailor-made offer on how we can help. 

Find here the questionnaire "All I need for FinSA & FinIA" (estimated time  to respond 5 minutes).

For new clients, we propose special deals and solutions: 

  • Do you need a Swiss representative to distribute your funds in compliance with the new regulation? Please answer our questionnaire to find out, and in case “yes”, we will offer you the affiliation to our ombudsman partner 
  • Do you need at least an ombudsman and a client advisor registration service? We can offer you a standard Swiss Representation and Paying Agent service. Please contact us for any further information.

In addition, our team of specialists is available to answer any questions you may have in this regard.

Clarification of some specific FinSA/FinIA requirements and how ACOLIN can assist: 

Ombudsman 

Foreign fund managers/distributors of foreign funds will have to affiliate with a Swiss Ombudsman (mediation body) to be allowed to offer the funds in Switzerland to institutional and professional clients. 

The Federal Department of Finance recognized the first ombudsman’s offices according to the FinSA (FDF list) on June 24th, 2020. Consequently, the affiliation to an ombudsman's office must be done before December 24th, 2020.

ACOLIN offers a tailor-made support solution to be compliant with this new obligation in Switzerland (filing all necessary documents, negotiating the agreement, managing the whole registration with an ombudsman office on client’s behalf).

The ombudsman acts as an independent and neutral mediator in disputes. An ombudsman is an alternative to conducting expensive legal proceedings. 

Client advisor register 

Investor advisors working for a prudentially supervised foreign financial service provider are exempt from the duty to register into a client advisor register as long as they offer funds in Switzerland to institutional and professional clients exclusively (including HNWI and their investment structures that wish to be considered as professional clients). There is no equivalence or reciprocity test. 

On the contrary, investor advisors working for a non-prudentially supervised foreign financial service provider will have to register to a client advisor register approved by FINMA.  

FINMA has announced last week that as of 20 July 2020 it authorised the first registration body for client advisors. It is to be expected that further registration bodies will be authorised. FINMA is responsible for authorising the registration bodies, but not for their prudential supervision. The authorisation of the first client advisor register marks the start of a six-month transitional period which will be finished by 19 January 2021. 

Under the new Swiss regulation (FinSA/FinIA), employees of foreign financial service providers will be able to target retail investors in Switzerland only if they are registered in the client advisor register. In case of interest, we would be glad to give you more advice on this topic and provide you with a list of detailed requirements for the employees to be added to the new client advisor register. Also, if needed, we could assist you through the registration process.  

Confirmation of English as official language (for funds registered for NQI distribution) for communication with FINMA 

The new Swiss regulation (FinSA/FinSO) finally defines English as its official language for communication with FINMA (in addition to German, French and Italian). Within the last few months, we have already started changing our communication from official Swiss languages to English for more than 170 funds.  

Please let us know if you may be interested in updating your communication from official Swiss languages to English as well. We will be delighted to help! 

We also would like to suggest you review the outline of key milestones during the transition period to meet the key FinSA requirements.

Any questions? Please get in touch by sending an email to legal@acolin.com 

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