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The Swiss Financial Services Act (FinSA), which entered into force on 1 January 2020, states that client advisers of Swiss & International financial service providers must be entered in the Swiss ‘Client Advisers’ Register (Art. 28 para. 1 FinSA). Client advisers are natural persons who offer financial services to clients in Switzerland.
In the case of foreign-based companies & advisers, who use the current ‘passporting’ into Switzerland to advise Swiss based clients and/or engage by phone or email from any county outside of Switzerland, must also comply and be entered on the Swiss ‘Client Advisor’ register.
The investment adviser as a financial service provider and client adviser, providing investment advice on a commercial basis constitutes a financial service and is therefore covered by the new FinSA (Art. 3 lit. c and d FinSA). Under the FinSA, investment advisers, wealth managers and financial advisers fall into the client adviser category. Client advisers are natural persons who come into contact with a client of a financial service provider and offer them a specific financial service or perform such a service (e.g. issuing individual investment recommendations, advice or managing of assets).
According to Art. 6 FinSA, client advisers, as mentioned above, must now demonstrate appropriate knowledge and be qualified, in order to be able to act for clients of financial service providers. In addition, as financial service providers, they must comply with the code of conduct pursuant to Art. 7 et seqq. FinSA (e.g. informing clients of the name and address of the financial service provider, conducting an appropriateness or suitability test and enter into the register of advisers.
In order for client advisers to be registered, they must provide proof of sufficient knowledge of the code of conduct of the FinSA and of the necessary expertise for their activity, in accordance with Art. 29 para. 1 FinSA. In addition, they must provide evidence of taking out professional indemnity insurance or the existence of an equivalent collateral as well as proof of affiliation to a Swiss financial or banking ombudsman’s office.
When client advisers possess knowledge of the FinSA code of conduct and the necessary expertise and qualifications for their activity, along with providing suitable and corresponding evidence, this will be assessed when reviewing their application for registration, whereby this review is subject to the discretion of the Swiss FinSA registration body.
The register of advisers will contain at least the following information about the investment adviser: