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Swiss Financial Services Act (FinSA)

Important client communication - FINSA Information for clients of Barclays Bank (Suisse) SA

The Swiss Financial Services Act (FinSA) and related ordinance (Financial Services Ordinance, FinSO) entered into force on 1 January 2020. This new regulation involves strengthening investor protection and the Swiss financial centre, and establishing comparable standards for financial service providers. Barclays Bank (Suisse) SA (the ‘Bank’) applies the two-year transitory periods defined by FinSO for certain regulatory requirements such as client classification, conduct rules and organisational measures with the objective to comply with this new regulation by 31 December 2021 at the latest.

This page contains general information with respect to main FinSA standards. Should you like to get more details about the FinSA implications, please contact your Private Banker.

Client Classification

FinSA stipulates that clients must be classified in one of the three following categories: Retail clients, Professional clients, and Institutional clients; which trigger different level of investor protection. Details around the Retail client and Professional client segments are summarised below.

Retail Client Status

Clients will be treated as Retail clients unless they are informed otherwise.

This classification ensures additional regulatory protection (such as extensive product information, appropriateness and/or suitability checks conducted before a service can be provided or a transaction can be executed, etc.). It is based on an individual’s personal financial circumstances, or his/her knowledge, experience and financial expertise, or the size of the company, or having a professionally managed treasury as defined by law. The range of financial instruments available is generally limited to products targeted to Retail clients or to products explicitly registered to be offered to Retail clients.

Retail clients can declare that they would like to be assigned to a different classification and therefore benefit from more or less investor protection. Clients are allowed to change categories should they meet the regulatory conditions and provide a written request to switch client category.

Professional Client Status

Professional clients are regarded as sophisticated investors with a lower level of investor protection than Retail clients, as a result of their level of knowledge and experience and their ability to bear financial losses.

Some conduct rules do not apply to Professional clients (such as the provision of product information via a “Key information Document”, appropriateness checks). Professional clients are eligible for a larger investment universe, including products not authorised to be offered to Retail clients.

Code of conduct

FinSA includes the following conduct rules:

Information duty

The duty to provide information encompasses factual data relating to the financial service provider as well as information on the financial services (e.g. risk and product/service information, cost and charges, etc.).

Suitability and appropriateness checks

  • Suitability assessments are required for financial service providers offering discretionary portfolio management services and ongoing advisory services, taking into account the client’s financial situation and investment objectives
  • For transactional advice, only appropriateness assessment of the financial instruments being recommended is required for clients classified as Retail clients
  • In order to perform a suitability assessment, the Bank requires specific information about the client’s personal and financial circumstances. For this purpose, a Client Fact Finding Questionnaire (FFQ) - equivalent to a client investment profiling document, is established to collect information on the client’s knowledge and experience, investment objectives (including investment horizon) and the financial situation, including financial risk ability and risk tolerance
  • No suitability or appropriateness assessments are required in the absence of investment advice provided by the Bank (“execution only” orders).

Documentation and reporting duties

Financial services agreed with clients and the information collected on them with this regard must be documented. This includes clients´ needs and the basis for each recommendation.

Transparency and care in Client Orders

Financial service providers shall uphold the principles of good faith and equal treatment when handling client orders. They shall apply best execution for their client orders, i.e. that the best possible outcome is achieved in terms of cost, timing and quality.

Ombudsman contact:

If you are not fully satisfied with the quality of our services, Barclays Bank (Suisse) SA is affiliated to the Swiss Banking Ombudsman, an independent mediation agency responsible for mediation proceedings with our clients. Generally, the Ombudsman gets involved after the Bank takes the relevant steps to address a written client complaint. Relevant contact details of the Ombudsman can be found below:

Swiss Banking Ombudsman
Bahnhofplatz 9
Postfach 8021 Zurich, Switzerland
Phone: +41 43 266 14 14
www.bankingombudsman.ch