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SFA forum highlights Swiss opportunities

The recent Swiss Funds & Asset Management Forum hosted by the Swiss Funds Association (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 and found that there are a range of opportunities open to the country’s finance sector.

“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,” according to SFA President Martin Thommen (pictured).

SFA CEO Dr Matthäus Den Otter, says: “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 optimising the Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA), the Key Investor Information Document (KID), and the AIFM Directive. We are seeking to achieve three goals here: strengthening Switzerland as a production location; improving the Swiss distribution market, and; facilitating EU market access for Swiss asset managers.

Following the opening remarks to the SFA’s Swiss Funds & Asset Management Forum in Bern from 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 outlined the international challenges, the main thrusts of Switzerland’s financial market policy, and the role of the SIF.

Patrick Raaflaub, Director of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA then looked at 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 authorisation requirements in line with the new standards. T

his will at the same time bolster investor protection as well as the transparency and functionality of the market. 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.

The final speaker was Gerhard Schwarz, Director at Avenir Suisse, who outlined the major economic policy challenges in the offing for the “Swiss economic miracle”. These range from financial crises to globalisation, uncertain social security, education, and the legitimation of the system. Nevertheless, Switzerland is a success model with an exceptional high number of big companies and healthy state finances, a fact further underscored by its top spot in the WEF Global Competitiveness Ranking 2010/2011.

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