2011 was a year characterised by major economic uncertainty and correspondingly hesitant investors. Nevertheless, the Swiss fund and asset management sector put in a respectable showing, according to the Swiss Funds Association (SFA), which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
“The SFA has developed from being the association of Swiss fund management companies into the representative association of the entire Swiss fund and asset management industry. This has only been possible thanks to the committed support of our members. More than ever before, it is crucial for the industry to pull together and adopt a consistent and unified approach in tackling the new challenges. I look forward to the future with confidence in this regard,” says SFA President Martin Thommen.
As of the end of 2011, there were 7,461 collective investment schemes authorized for public sale in Switzerland (2010: 7,191), of which 1,403 were products under Swiss law (2010: 1,400) and 6,058 foreign-law products (5,791). The volume of assets placed in funds authorised by FINMA stood at CHF 621 billion (compared with CHF 641 billion in 2010).
“The financial markets were beset with volatility last year. Investors were correspondingly unsettled in their response to this, and invested their money only very tentatively. However, the Swiss fund and asset management sector posted a stable showing and real growth opportunities – and this is what we are committed to ensuring. In light of the redimensioning of investment banking and offshore private banking, the standing of our sector is set to increase further,” says Dr Matthäus Den Otter (pictured), CEO of the SFA.
There were two key areas of activity for the SFA in Switzerland in 2011 with the partial revision of the CISA and the setting up of the Swiss Key Investor Information Document (KIID). The SFA supports in principle the primary objectives of the partial revision of the CISA. With a view to making Switzerland as a production location fit for the new European alternative investment fund market, the SFA has proposed measures that promise maximum benefit with minimal legislative workload. The onus is now on parliament and the authorities responsible. In the case of the Swiss KIID, the guidelines drawn up by the SFA have been recognised as a minimum standard by FINMA. As regards international matters, the focus was on the Directives on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) and Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) as well as the Foreign Account Tax Act (FATCA). At the same time, the SFA implemented staffing and organizational measures to expand its second key area of activity, asset management. The monthly fund market statistics were also reintroduced thanks to the cooperation between Lipper and Swiss Fund Data AG.
In mid-2011, Delphine Calonne joined the SFA as Legal Counsel, and is also responsible for looking after the members in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. In addition, the SFA has set up a Regulatory Strategic Committee with the aim of taking an even more active role in contending with the increasing regulatory challenges in Switzerland and abroad. The association has also stepped up its public affairs activities and now has its own lobbyist in the federal capital of Bern, who will ensure contacts with members of the Swiss parliament.
Following on from the strong increase in membership numbers in recent years, 17 new companies joined the SFA in 2011. However, the difficult market circumstances and restructuring forced certain members to cease business activity and thus to relinquish their membership, which curbed the net growth somewhat. As of the end of December, the SFA had 178 registered members, more than twice as many as in 2004.