A major reform of the overall Swiss financial markets
regulation is underway. As part of the changes, the draft bill
of the new Financial Institutions Act (FIA) will affect
licensing of institutions active in investment management.
From a technical perspective, FIA will consolidate the rules
governing the following regulated institutions in one piece of
legislation: banks, fund management companies, securities
dealers, and asset managers of collective investment schemes.
Further, newly regulated institutions will also be subject to
The existing regulations on banks are to be largely
transferred from the Federal Act on Banks and Savings
Institutions (Banking Act) to FIA. Under FIA, a bank will no
longer need to obtain either a separate securities dealer
licence to trade or a further licence to act as a Swiss
representative of foreign collective investment schemes.
According to a press release from the Swiss Federal Department
of Finance dated March 2015, parts of the Banking Act will
nevertheless remain in force.
Under FIA, securities dealers will be renamed securities
houses. The rules applicable to them under the Stock Exchange
and Securities Trading Act (SESTA) will be incorporated in the
The proposed FIA is to include the licensing conditions for
fund management companies as set out in the Swiss Collective
Investment Schemes Act (CISA). However, even under FIA, a
licence will not enable a bank or a securities house to carry
out fund management activities.
The existing provisions of CISA regulating asset managers of
collective investment schemes will also move to FIA, without
any major material changes. However, asset managers of
collective investment schemes will fall into a new category of
regulated entities called qualified asset managers. This
category will further include asset managers of pension schemes
that will become subject to a licensing obligation under
Independent asset managers (also known as portfolio
managers) that do not manage collective investment schemes are
as yet not subject to any licensing obligation or to prudential
supervision. They are only subject to anti-money laundering
legislation. Under FIA, they will need to apply for a licence
and will be subject to the prudential supervision of a newly
created supervisory body.
Stephanie Comtesse and Tina Balzli