Client complaints are one of the sources of information for the SFBC's prudential supervisory activity. In particular, they serve to bring to light any irregularities at supervised institutions. The SFBC receives hundreds of complaints from clients of its supervised institutions every year. As a general rule, however, it is unable to provide direct assistance to clients who have a complaint. In effect, as an administrative authority, the SFBC was created to serve the best interests of the banking and investment community rather than the interests of individual investors. It therefore has no power to adjudicate on claims from individual clients (which must be resolved by a civil court) or to replace the penal courts in the prosecution and judgement of the penal provisions of the laws on financial market supervision or of the Swiss Penal Code.
For difficulties of a civil nature, clients may contact the Swiss Banking Ombudsman:
Swiss Banking Ombudsman
P.O. Box 1818
Phone (8:30-11:30) :
+41 (0) 43 266 14 14 German / English
+41 (0) 21 311 29 83 French / Italian
+41 (0) 43 266 14 15
The Ombudsman is a neutral and independent intermediary. He may propose solutions, but does not have any authority to render binding decisions. He provides information to the parties, and submits settlement proposals to them. The Ombudsman’s services are free of charge. This route, however, is not available for disputes with companies that are not members of the Swiss Bankers' Association.
When the SFBC launches legal proceeding against a supervised institution based on a client complaint, the client in question does not participate in such proceeding. The SFBC may, therefore, not provide any information to the client as to either the existence of a proceeding, or its progress. Any information related to any such proceeding is subject to official secrecy, as is the activity of bank supervision in general.