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Tuesday 22 January 2019


Autumn Conference

Swiss govt briefed on proposals to strengthen financial centre

Written by Natalie Tuck

The Swiss government’s Federal Council has been briefed by the financial market policy forum on proposals to strengthen the country’s financial centre.

Despite having a successful fund market, with the most recent statistics revealing a value of CHF 1106.6bn, the Federal Council said the country is facing “increasingly intense international competition”.

“Care has to be taken of the country's good framework conditions and the financial centre's tax and regulatory environment must be reviewed on an ongoing basis,” it noted. Therefore, headed by the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, the forum, has looked at ways of boosting Switzerland’s financial centre’s competitiveness. The review has shown that the general framework conditions in Switzerland, such as the tax environment, the labour market and education, are “key to maintaining the financial centre’s competitiveness”.

The forum has also provided a number of financial market-specific ideas for measures in the areas of regulation and supervision, capital market, asset management, pension provision and markets of the future. Many of the proposals put forward by the sector are already the subject of ongoing work and reform projects. Examples include in particular the concerns regarding withholding tax, stamp duty, market access and the regulatory process. The Federal Council said this shows that the existing dialogue between the private sector and the competent authorities for identifying any need for action early on works well.

“The advisory board for the future of the Swiss financial centre, which assesses the strategic challenges and future prospects for financial business, supports the thrust of the proposals. At the same time, it maintains that a final assessment of these proposals would also have to take into account the objectives of the stability and integrity of the financial market. It believes that the forum's analysis confirms that the Federal Council's current financial market strategy is largely comprehensive and expedient with regard to the objective of strengthening competitiveness,” the Federal Council said.

The Federal Department of Finance (FDF) and the sector are currently examining several of the proposed measures. For example, the sector is investigating the advantages, disadvantages and prerequisites for the development of a securitisation market in Switzerland and the possibility of drafting best practices for sustainable trade finance. The FDF is examining a proposal for a new category of collective investment schemes not subject to approval and the legal qualification of blockchain applications, among other things. It is undisputed that such measures would have to undergo the customary regular consultations between the authorities and the parties concerned if they were to be pursued.

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