Switzerland stakes its claim to asset management universe

The Swiss Funds Association (SFA) today announced three key goals at the Swiss Funds & Asset Management Forum 2011 in Bern, which it said would help maintain Switzerland’s position in investment services.

“As part of an action plan to promote Switzerland as a location for funds, we have launched various initiatives, for example in areas such as optimizing the Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA), the Key Investor Information Document (KID), and the AIFM Directive,” said SFA chief executive Matthäus Den Otter.

“We are seeking to achieve three goals here: One, strengthening Switzerland as a production location; two, improvements for the Swiss distribution market; and three, EU market access for Swiss asset managers.”

He spoke about how the SFA addressed the impact of the various regulatory efforts in Switzerland and abroad as well as the outlook for the Swiss fund and asset management sector.

He said that there were a range of opportunities open to Switzerland, and the focus must be on using these consistently.

“Volumes in the fund business are almost back to the levels set before the financial crisis, and Switzerland is also well positioned with regard to asset management. Nevertheless, the focus must be on consistently implementing the ‘white money strategy’ newly defined just over a year ago, and on establishing ‘Swiss Made’ as a hallmark in the fund and asset management sector as well,” stressed SFA president Martin Thommen.

Also speaking at the conference were Federal Councilor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Finance (FDF), ambassador Oscar Knapp from the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF) and Patrick Raaflaub, Director of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

Raaflaub took up the topic of a quality strategy in Swiss asset management. In his view, international standards have risen in the institutional asset management business in the wake of the financial crisis, and pressure has increased on the sector in Switzerland as well.

FINMA will seek to enhance quality in asset management by developing risk-oriented supervision in the collective investment schemes segment and bringing authorization requirements in line with the new standards. This will at the same time bolster investor protection as well as the transparency and functionality of the market, he said.

Nicolas Pictet, partner at Pictet & Cie, spoke about the challenges and outlooks for asset management in Switzerland. He highlighted the great economic significance of Switzerland’s financial sector, which generates 11% of Swiss GDP, and said that the biggest challenge lies in national and international regulations. The focused revision of the CISA could improve Switzerland’s competitiveness.


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