Dr. Matthäus Den Otter Opalesque Industry Update - 2012 proved to be a demanding but successful year for the Swiss Funds Association (SFA). The Association celebrated its 20th anniversary, and focused on the partial revision of the Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA) and the new asset management strategy.
There was no shortage of challenges for the fund and asset management industry in 2012, with examples including the euro crisis, hesitant investors, and the glut of regulation. In this demanding environment for the financial sector as a whole, the SFA was actively involved in ensuring that the industry increasingly stands together and speaks as one. “It is only with this unity that our concerns will be noticed and taken on board by politicians and the authorities. The particular highlights I would mention from the past year were the successful conclusion of the partial revision of the CISA, and the drawing up of the strategy on asset management. The focus now must be on consistently seizing the opportunities they open up,” said SFA President Martin Thommen.
The SFA also celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. It was founded in Bern in 1992 as the Swiss Investment Funds Association. “The founders laid the basis from which the SFA has grown to become established and recognized both in Switzerland and internationally as the association representing the interests of collective investment schemes and their asset managers,” said Dr. Matthäus Den Otter, CEO of the SFA.
The following themes will be at the forefront for the SFA in 2013:
As of the end of 2012, there were 7,500 collective investment schemes authorized for public sale in Switzerland (2011: 7,461), of which 1,382 were products under Swiss law (1,403) and 6,118 foreign-law products (6,058). The volume of assets placed in funds authorized by FINMA increased by around 13% to CHF 712 billion (compared with CHF 631 billion in 2011). Fund volumes are thus back at their highs, underscoring the trust clients have in investment funds.
The SFA had two main areas of activity in Switzerland in 2012: the asset management strategy and the partial revision of the CISA. Switzerland should be developed into a leading location for asset management in the coming years. This will give the Swiss financial sector a broader base, supplementing existing business areas and offsetting those that are declining. A joint SBA/SFA working group drew up a corresponding white paper last year highlighting eight areas requiring action: 1. Establish asset management as a brand, 2. Develop and apply standards for asset management; 3. Ensure adequate supervision; 4. Improve market access; 5. Promote the right instruments and structures for asset management; 6. Create an excellent tax environment (including various levies) for investors; 7. Strategically build up infrastructure; 8. Offer specific training.
The activities surrounding the partial revision of the CISA have placed a heavy workload on the SFA over the past two years. In 2012, the focus was on actively contributing to the parliamentary debates. The SFA regards the solution passed by parliament as a balanced compromise between investor protection, market access, and competitiveness. The amendments that were made took on board various points raised by the industry aimed at ensuring that the CISA can make a substantial contribution to strengthening asset management as a key mainstay of the Swiss financial sector.
Board of Directors expanded
In March 2012, Felix Haldner, Partner and member of the Executive Board at Partners Group, was elected as an additional member of the SFA Board of Directors. As a representative of one of the leading asset managers operating independently of banks and insurance companies, he will make a significant contribution toward further strengthening the SFA’s position as a representative of the Swiss asset management industry.