Institutions and products subject to the Collective Investment Schemes Act

Anyone who manages or acts as custodian for collective investment schemes or distributes schemes of this kind to non-qualified investors or who distributes foreign collective investment schemes to qualified investors must be authorised by FINMA to do so. FINMA must approve the documentation relating to these schemes before they are established or distributed in or from Switzerland.

The Collective Investment Schemes Act states that both the institutions and the products issued and managed by them are subject to dual supervision. A collective investment scheme established under corporate law therefore has a double role: as a product (in the form of a company) and as an institution (in the form of a licence holder).

Institutions

Anyone who manages or acts as custodian for collective investment schemes or distributes schemes of this kind to non-qualified investors or who distributes foreign collective investment schemes to qualified investors must be authorised by FINMA to do so (Art. 13 para. 1 CISA). The following are required to obtain authorisation:

Authorisation requirements

Anyone applying to FINMA for authorisation to operate as an institution must meet the authorisation requirements set out in the Collective Investment Schemes Act, the Collective Investment Schemes Ordinance and the Anti-Money Laundering Act. In addition to the basic requirement of managing, representing, operating, acting as a custodian or distributor for at least one collective investment scheme, the individual must also meet a number of personal, financial and organisational requirements.

In particular, individuals must prove that they have a registered office in Switzerland, have one of the legal forms specified in the law, are appropriately organised and have sufficient financial guarantees at their disposal. Moreover, those responsible for administering and managing the company must be able to comply with the proper business conduct requirements, enjoy a good reputation and hold appropriate professional qualifications.

Products

Collective investments are assets which are raised by investors for collective investment purposes and managed on their behalf. Various organisational forms – including collective investment schemes under corporate law (e.g. SICAVs, LPs and SICAFs) and contractual investment funds – are possible. Structured products and in-house funds are not subject to the Collective Investment Schemes Act.

Requirements for approval

FINMA must approve the documentation relating to these schemes before they are established or distributed in or from Switzerland (Arts. 15 and 120 CISA). This applies to fund contracts for Swiss investment funds, the articles of association and investment regulations for Swiss SICAVs and SICAFs, partnership agreements for Swiss limited partnerships for collective investment schemes (LPs) and the corresponding documents for foreign collective capital investment schemes for distribution to non-qualified investors.

Changes in circumstances, cessation of the activity

The authorisation and approval requirements must be complied with at all times. Any change in circumstances underlying the authorisation or approval granted must be permitted by FINMA before operations can be resumed (Art. 16 CISA).

Institutions and collective investment schemes seeking such permission must specify the types of change involved, describe the changes and the reasons for them and submit the relevant documents.

Submitting applications

Applications, including all necessary documentation, should be sent to:

Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA
Asset Management division
Laupenstrasse 27
3003 Bern

Applications must be submitted in an official language of the Swiss Confederation and signed by the applicant. FINMA will process the application once it has been submitted correctly and in full. However, the applicant may need to provide additional information at a later date, and FINMA may require further information and documentation.

FINMA provides a range of documents to simplify the application process. These include application templates for the authorisation and approval of institutions and collective investment schemes and changes to them, guidelines and the standard declarations (i.e. A1 to A4 and B1 to B3).