Legal basis for FINMA’s activities

FINMA's statutory powers to supervise banks, insurers, stock exchanges, financial institutions and collective investment schemes are governed by a variety of financial market laws, including the Financial Market Supervision Act. FINMA also has regulatory powers, which it exercises through FINMA ordinances and FINMA circulars. It also provides information to supervised institutions through various channels, regularly publishing documents and articles on its activities and on key issues related to financial-market legislation.

All actions taken by FINMA are based on applicable legal provisions, as set out in the Financial Market Supervision Act and other financial-market laws. They are promulgated in more detail in Federal Council ordinances and, where necessary, also in FINMA ordinances. 

Laws enacted by Parliament and ordinances issued by the Federal Council

All financial-market laws and ordinances governing the financial market are enacted by Parliament, while the Federal Council issues all ordinances. During the legislative process, FINMA has the right to express and publish its position on this proposed legislation. 

FINMA ordinances and FINMA circulars

FINMA regulates through ordinances of its own only where it has explicit authorisation to do so. These ordinances serve, for examples, to determine technical details, for instance, or to provide regulation in areas subject to particularly dynamic change. FINMA also publishes FINMA circulars explaining how it carries out its supervisory duties. Before issuing or adjusting an ordinance or circular, however, it runs a consultation for the relevant stakeholders.

FINMA guidance

FINMA uses guidance as a flexible, rapid, transparent and, if necessary, ad hoc means of conveying useful information to groups of supervised institutions. FINMA guidance can also set out expectations or draw attention to potential risks. 

FINMA publications

Each year, FINMA publishes an annual report and financial statements, accounting for its activities, which is submitted to the Federal Council for prior approval. FINMA publications also include reports on its supervisory activities, speeches and articles, fact sheets and statistics and key figures intended for the general public.


FINMA also publishes anonymised summaries of its enforcement actions and selected court decisions in a database (case reports and court decisions) and selected rulings.

Documentation topics

Legal basis
FINMA’s position statements
FINMA guidance
FINMA publications
Selected rulings