Legal basis for FINMA’s activities

FINMA's statutory powers to supervise banks, insurers, stock exchanges, securities dealers 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

FINMA regulates through ordinances of its own only where it has explicit authorisation to do so from the legislator or regulator. These ordinances serve, for example, to determine technical details, for instance, or to provide regulation in areas subject to particularly dynamic change. 

FINMA circulars

FINMA circulars explain how it carries out its supervisory duties. Before issuing a 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 specific supervisory issues, speeches and published articles, discussion papers to encourage debate on key topics, selected rulings and fact sheets intended for the general public.