With the establishment of an integrated financial market supervisory authority, an organizational reorientation is underway to strengthen Swiss financial market supervision and to give it greater weight as an interlocutor at the international level. FIMNA is being organized as an establishment under public law, with functional, institutional, and financial independence. This is provided by the FINMA Act, which partially entered into force on 1 February 2008.
FINMA Act as the umbrella law
In addition to organizational questions, the FINMA Act also contains fundamentals on financial market regulation, liability rules, and harmonized supervisory instruments and sanctions. The FINMA Act serves as an umbrella law for the other laws governing the content of financial market supervision. These subordinate laws remain unchanged. This arrangement takes account of the special nature of the different areas of supervision. For insurance undertakings, this means that they must continue to meet the requirements under the Insurance Supervision Act (ISA).
Fit for FINMA
With the election of a Board of Directors and partial entry into force of the FINMA Act, FINMA has already attained its own legal personality. Until the authority actually becomes operational on 1 January 2009 and begins functioning as an integrated financial market supervisory authority, however, several months remain. During this time, FOPI has set out the following goals:
- First and foremost, professional and modern supervisory activities will be performed, based on insurance supervision law.
- Additionally, Swiss supervision will – as already in the year before – strengthen its position internationally. A specific goal is to consider the draft of the European Union for a new framework directive on Solvency II. This will significantly influence the European insurance market.
- Finally, the goal will be to significantly advance integrated insurance supervision over the course of this year. The project was launched in January 2007. Initial milestones have been achieved, especially the regulation of competences and the channelling of information flows between the competent supervisory divisions and in the area of qualitative supervision. The next milestones are scheduled for mid- 2008. Implementation is ongoing and step-bystep. The time horizon is until the end of 2010.
On 1 January 2009, the staff members of the three merged authorities – the Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC), FOPI, and the Anti- Money Laundering Control Authority (AMLCA) – will take up their work for the new FINMA at a joint location. This will not mark the end of a development, but rather an important intermediate goal on the path toward a supervisory authority that is also recognized internationally.