Individuals or companies intending to accept money from investors, to issue insurance policies or to set up a fund must have authorisation to operate in the financial market. This is granted only to those meeting the relevant statutory requirements. Not every type of licence is subject to the same intensity of supervision by FINMA.
The most common type of authorisation granted by FINMA is a licence to engage in a given financial-market activity. Banks and securities dealers, insurers, collective investment schemes and financial-market infrastructures must comply with stringent organisational, financial and risk-minimisation requirements. They are also subject to prudential supervision by FINMA.
Distributors governed by the Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA) and representatives of foreign collective investment schemes must also obtain authorisation, although distributors are not subject to ongoing regulatory supervision.
Financial intermediaries directly subordinate to FINMA (DSFIs) must also be authorised. Once this initial authorisation has been granted, supervision is limited to ensuring that anti-money laundering due-diligence requirements are being met. Specifically, this involves checking that the DSFIs have taken the necessary precautions to prevent money laundering.
In a limited number of financial sectors, FINMA also approves products and tariffs. Products issued by collective investment schemes, occupational pension schemes and supplementary health insurers are subject to FINMA approval. In the insurance sector, FINMA undertakes preventive product control to monitor insurers’ general terms and conditions and their tariffs. Approval will be granted to collective investment schemes provided their documentation complies with CISA requirements. Supplementary health insurance and occupational pension schemes are the only areas in which tariffs are subject to FINMA approval. In addition, FINMA evaluates and approves the uniform set of tariffs that Swiss insurers apply to their natural-hazard policies.
FINMA maintains a register of authorised insurance intermediaries. Admission to this register is also subject to specific conditions. Once registration has been granted, FINMA does not conduct any ongoing supervision.