Getting licensed: banks and securities firms

FINMA is charged with licensing banks and securities firms.

FINMA publishes guidelines detailing the information and documents required.

Applicants are advised to arrange a meeting with FINMA representatives to present their licensing projects and receive initial feedback before submitting their application.

Applicants can choose to be represented by specialised lawyers, consultants or recognised audit firms, but this is not mandatory.

After submitting their application, applicants are informed as to which FINMA account manager is in charge of the process and which additional information and documents may be required.

FINMA ensures that basic obstacles impeding licensing are identified at an early stage. FINMA reviews complete applications and supporting documentation and decides whether it can issue a licence. Applicants are obliged to cooperate by clarifying facts where necessary and by providing proof that they meet the licensing requirements. Only when there is no doubt about the licensing requirements being met is a licence issued.

The length of the process depends on the type of licence and the completeness and complexity of the application. Applications from entities outside Switzerland must also take into account the time it takes to receive a response from the competent foreign supervisory authorities.