FINMA’s main task as a regulator is to make sure that all financial service providers comply with the rules and that the financial system is stable. We are responsible for authorising banks, insurance companies, stock exchanges and other market participants, including asset managers of collective investment schemes. We then monitor them and take action if they break the rules.
Client protection is a key objective for FINMA, and our role is enshrined in law. This protection is designed for all bank users, policyholders and investors. These clients have a common interest: they want the financial institutions under our supervision to remain solvent. In pursuing that core task, FINMA draws on the powers of supervisory law.
It is up to clients to pursue their individual claims against financial service providers. Usually they will seek to enforce them through the civil courts. The decision will be passed down by the competent judge. In most cases, it is worth contacting the ombudsman beforehand. There are different ombudsmen for different types of financial service, and it is their job to try settling the dispute.
FINMA monitors how the providers under its supervision look after their clients. If a provider, or a group of providers, fails to observe the legal requirements, we will take action. We cannot, however, intervene in the contractual relationship between a financial institution and a client.
FINMA makes sure the law governing the financial markets is observed, even if a provider has not sought the authorisation it needs before offering its services. It is not unusual for FINMA to close down a company operating without licence. This makes us a gatekeeper to the financial market in Switzerland.
Information from individuals is just as valuable to FINMA’s work as the insights we gain from our supervisory activities and our observation of the market. Complaints by clients can flag up violations of the law or reveal improper conduct on the part of the companies we supervise. Reporting your problem could draw FINMA’s attention to an illegal financial operation, trigger an investigation into stock exchange manipulation, or help us to identify systematic misconduct. If your suspicion bears out, FINMA will exercise its supervisory powers to put an end to the irregularities.