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Reshaping the Swiss fund and asset management industry

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By Markus Fuchs – Switzerland’s fund and asset management industry is on the brink of major changes not only resulting from the revised Collective Investment Schemes Act, which sets out regulatory requirements for both traditional and alternative funds, but also from changes partly outside the regulatory framework.

Banking services in Switzerland are primarily associated with private banking and wealth management. In contrast, asset management, which for many banks and financial services companies is a core activity, has tended to stay more on the side lines. And yet the importance of asset management for the Swiss financial centre cannot be overestimated. It is more than justified to put forward some ideas and strengths that can help Switzerland to develop into a globally recognised centre for asset management as well.

Asset management in Switzerland is an important mainstay of the Swiss financial sector. Internationally, Swiss asset management represents the highest level of reliability, independence and quality and is known and recognised for these characteristics throughout the world.

Switzerland, namely its fund and asset management trade bodies and industry associations are currently working on implementation measures for a strategy in order to boost asset management in Switzerland. The goal is to formulate a joint basis to continue looking into the issues affecting asset management. The Swiss Funds Association SFA together with the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) has placed the various measures into an overall strategic context as they relate to a range of strategies across the entire Swiss financial centre. In addition, the measures we have proposed often require a broad consensus among political and supervisory authorities for their implementation.

The legislative moves are taking place against the backdrop of major developments across the Swiss financial industry as a whole. The private banking sector is currently under pressure from countries in Europe as well as the US, and changes in its business model may follow. In this environment, asset management has the opportunity to strengthen its role as a pillar of the country’s financial industry, building on the expertise and infrastructure established through Switzerland’s leading position as a centre for wealth management.

Ensuring future access to the broader European market is an important issue not only for existing Swiss-based managers but others currently based elsewhere that might be considering moving to the country. While attention up to now has largely focused on benefits to managers including an attractive tax environment and quality of life aspects, it is less remarked-upon that for many managers a large proportion of their clientele are based in or around Switzerland.

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