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Audit firms

Under the dual supervisory system, FINMA delegates responsibility for auditing banks, insurance companies, securities dealers, fund management companies, investment companies with variable or fixed capital, limited partnerships for collective investments, asset managers of collective investment schemes, investment funds and directly subordinated financial intermediaries (DSFIs) to recognised audit firms. 

Audit firms and lead auditors require both a basic licence from the Federal Audit Oversight Authority (FAOS) and a special statutory licence as prescribed in Art. 26 FINMASA in order to conduct their activities. FINMA grants extensive powers to the audit firms that are subject to its supervision and enjoy its trust.

The duties and activities of audit firms are duly monitored and reviewed. In particular, checks are made to ensure that audit firms meet the conditions for recognition at all times and comply with regulatory provisions and relevant professional codes of conduct. The supervisor also verifies that the audit methodologies defined in the audit firms' manuals and codes of conduct are applied in specific individual cases. FINMA performs targeted quality control tests on the organisational structures and mandate procedures of audit firms and analyses their audit expenditure and fees. These tests are carried out in close cooperation with the ASA.

The aim of audit firm supervision is to guarantee high quality standards in both the planning and execution of audits. It should also ensure that the content of the audit reports prepared for senior management, supervisory and controlling bodies on the one hand and for FINMA on the other corresponds with the findings made during the audit. Major synergies are created through the use of interdisciplinary teams drawn from the various areas of FINMA. Supervision also enables FINMA to strengthen its links with audit firms and their lead auditors, clarify its expectations with regard to the audit process and gather valuable information. In addition, at any stage of the audit process FINMA can accompany audit firms on visits to supervised institutions in a purely observational capacity. FINMA is not involved in any audit activities, responsibility for the audit lies with the audit firm.