According to the Financial Institutions Act (FinIA), a foreign financial institution must have authorisation from FINMA to employ people in Switzerland who, on a professional and permanent basis and either in or from Switzerland, represent the institution, notably by concluding client mandates on its behalf, promoting the company or for other purposes. As a result, the representative office may not operate as a foreign financial institution within the strict sense of the term (Art. 52 para. 1 FinIA) but will instead be eligible solely for representative duties.
Any company organised under foreign law with authorisation granted outside Switzerland to operate as a financial institution and that includes the terms below in its legal form, the description of its social purpose or professional documents, is considered as a foreign financial institution:
or that operates as a financial institution as defined by FinIA.
The applicant and representative office must meet the following conditions for the foreign financial institution to receive authorisation to set up a representative office:
FINMA may make authorisation contingent on the granting of reciprocity by the state in which the foreign financial institution is domiciled.
The authorisation procedure for the representative office of a foreign financial institution comprises communication with the applicants. The duration of the procedure depends on the quality and complexity of the application as well as the workload. The response times of the relevant foreign supervisory authorities must also be accounted for.
Financial institutions that have their registered office abroad and by reason of a branch or representation in Switzerland have become subject to an authorisation requirement must notify FINMA within six months of the FinIA coming into force. This notification takes place exclusively via a registration form available on the EHP survey and application platform.
These Financial institutions must self-register to gain access to the EHP. They can do this via the FINMA homepage. Following self-registration and the review by FINMA, they will be able to access the EHP through the FINMA portal via two-factor identification.
The following documents are available for new authorisation requests for a representative office of a foreign financial institution: