The framework within which FINMA acts is specified by the legislator. The legal basis for its activities is the Financial Market Supervision Act, which was enacted by the Swiss parliament on 22 June 2007 and put into effect on 1 January 2009 by the Federal Council.
FINMA acts as an oversight authority over banks, securities firms, insurance companies, financial market infrastructures, collective investment scheme products and institutions, entities under the Financial Services Act and the Financial Institutions Act, in addition to insurance intermediaries. Specifically, it is responsible for the enforcement of the following financial market acts: the Banking Act (BA) in the banking sector, the Insurance Contract Act (ICA) and the Insurance Supervision Act (ISA) in the insurance industry, the Financial Market Infrastructure Act (FinMIA) in the area of stock exchange trading, the Financial Institutions Act (FinIA) for financial institutions, the Financial Services Act (FinSA) for financial service providers, the Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA) in the fund industry and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) in connection with the combating of money laundering.
Since 1 May 2013, the scope of FINMA's competencies has extended beyond the supervised financial sector. Within the framework of its general market supervisory activities, FINMA is required to take action against market abuse, in particular in connection with insider trading and market manipulation.
FINMA is a supervisory authority, whose core task is to check compliance with the acts and ordinances passed by Parliament and the Federal Council. FINMA issues regulations in the form of ordinances and circulars where it is authorised to do so.