Within the SFBC’s areas of responsibility self-regulation looks back on a long tradition and fulfills an important task for the financial center. There are different types of self-regulations. A distinction is drawn between voluntary or autonomous self-regulation, self-regulation that is recognised as a minimum standard and compulsory self-regulation that is based on a mandate by the legislator to self-regulate.

Voluntary or autonomous self-regulation is based on private autonomy and is generally established without government agencies being involved (e.g. the codes of conduct of professional associations). Furthermore, the SFBC can recognise self-regulations as a minimum standard (cf. SFBC Circular 04/2 “Selbstregulierung als Mindeststandard“ in German / French). It can do so based on an application by a self-regulating organisation or based on its own initiative. As a result of their recognition such norms no longer merely apply to the members of the respective self-regulatory organisation but from then on must be respected as a minimum standard by all industry players. Compliance with recognised minimum standards is subsequently enforced by the SFBC. A list of currently recognised minimum standards is contained in the Annex to the above mentioned SFBC Circular (in German / French). Compulsory self-regulation is based on a mandate by the legislator to the self-regulatory organisations to regulate a certain topic by way of self-regulation. Such mandates are e.g. contained in art. 37h Federal Act on Banks and Savings Banks (securing of deposits), art. 4 para. 1 Federal Act on Stock Exchanges and Securities Trading (appropriate organisation), art. 4 para. 3 Federal Ordinance on Collective Investment Schemes (requirements for a simplified prospectus) and art. 25 Federal Act on Anti Money Laundering (specification of due diligence) (not exhaustive enumeration). Also this type of self-regulation is capable of recognition by the SFBC, insofar as the legislator has not provided for an official approval anyway. The recognition lends greater legitimacy, effectiveness and credibility to such norms and contributes to self-regulation being perceived as an equally valid alternative to state regulation both in Switzerland and abroad.

Especially where later recognition of self-regulatory norms is intended the SFBC encourages self-regulatory organisations to take account of certain regulatory principles when drawing up their regulations. Valuable input can be found in the Guidelines for Financial Market Regulation, which provide guidance to the SFBC, the Federal Finance Administration and the Federal Office for private insurance when elaborating state regulations. In particular, also self-regulatory norms shall be transparent and easily accessible; further stakeholders that will be affected by a new regulation shall be heard appropriately. The pro-active information of and coordination with the government agencies involved is deemed essential.

The currently most important self-regulatory organisations are theSwiss Bankers Association, theSwiss Funds Association SFA, the SWX Swiss Exchange and the Swiss Chamber of Trustees and Auditors.

More on this topic: report of the SFBC “Self-regulation in the Swiss financial sector” (report in German with summary in English)

© 2008 EBK

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