FINMA is opening the consultation period for the amendment of the circular on rating agencies. The present modifications aim to extend the requirements for rating agencies to all entities supervised by FINMA and to create standardised conditions for their recognition. They also take into account the developments at the level of international standard setters as well as the specificities of the Swiss market environment. The recognition requirements set out in the draft circular are intended to provide a minimum quality of rating. The consultation period ends on 13 May 2011.
The current circular defines the recognition requirements for rating agencies whose ratings of banks and securities dealers are used to calculate required equity capital based on financial market legislation for supervisory purposes.
The modifications foreseen will extend the circular’s scope of application from primarily being used for the supervisory regulation of banks and securities dealers to the relevant regulatory provisions for insurance companies (e.g. investment provisions for tied assets) and collective investment schemes (investment techniques and the use of derivatives). The recognition requirements for rating agencies will therefore be the same as those for all entity categories under FINMA supervision.
In the wake of the financial crisis, international standard setters have revised their guidelines for rating agencies. The IOSCO Code of Conduct Fundamentals for Credit Rating Agencies and the "regulatory framework for more resilient banks and banking systems" adopted by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (Basel III) in December 2010 form the basis for the modifications defined in the draft circular. One example from the circular is that rating agencies must in future disclose more information on how the ratings are decided and on the principles behind their activities.
In view of the market situation for rating agencies in Switzerland, FINMA will continue to use the system already established for their recognition. This means that as before rating agencies recognised by FINMA will not be subject to its supervision under Article 3 of the Financial Market Supervisory Act. For the recognition of rating agencies domiciled abroad and compliance with recognition requirements, FINMA can nonetheless take into consideration monitoring conducted by foreign supervisory authorities.
Tobias Lux, Media Spokesperson, Phone +41 (0)31 327 91 71, email@example.com