The parliament already passed the Financial Services Act (FinSA) and the Financial Institutions Act (FinIA) in summer 2018. As planned, at its meeting of 6 November 2019 the Federal Council put FinSA and FinIA, together with the final ordinances into force with effect from 1 January 2020. Both acts and their accompanying ordinances will entail fundamental changes for financial services providers operating in Switzerland.
1. Federal Council publishes final FinSO implementing ordinance
The Financial Services Ordinance (FinSO) contains the Federal Council's implementation provisions for FinSA. The FinSO specifies the rules of conduct for financial services providers and contains provisions on the organisation, the new register of advisors, client documentation, ombuds-man and the transition periods. Together with the Financial Institutions Ordinance (FinIO), FinSO was subject of a consultation procedure until February 2019. On 6 November 2019, the Federal Council published the final version of both ordinances.
The draft FinSO was well received by the majority of the consultation participants. The points of criticism raised during the consultation procedure were largely taken into account by the Federal Council. In comparison with the draft FinSO, the final version of the FinSO contains the following summarised material amendments:
2. Impact on financial services providers subject to CISA in particular
With the introduction of FinSA, the provisions of the current version of the Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA) on distribution, and thus on rules of conduct, will be repealed without replacement. CISA licensees have two years, starting from 1 January 2020, to implement the new FinSA rules of conduct. The final version of FinSO now stipulates that the current version of the CISA rules of conduct will continue to apply to affected financial services providers until the end of the FinSA transition period (see Art. 105 and 106 FinSO). This has resolved the “vacuum”, and the cor-responding concerns about legal certainty, raised by many of the consultation participants as a complaint.
3. Next steps for financial services providers
Based on the legislations and the finalised ordinances, financial services providers should once again carefully examine by the end of the year where there is still a need for concrete action. The extension of the transition periods of basically two years should certainly give many financial services providers some breathing space with regard to the implementation of the legal requirements.
The final ordinances are available at the following link.