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Swiss body introduces self-regulation for asset managers and designers of collective investment products

Monday, September 26, 2022
Opalesque Industry Update - The Asset Management Association Switzerland (AMAS) says it is "continuing to raise the bar for quality and transparency of sustainable assets managed collectively" with its new self-regulation framework for sustainable finance. This framework lays down the organisational requirements for financial institutions, as well as for product design and disclosures to investors. With this voluntary self-regulation framework, AMAS raises the standards of the Swiss financial centre in sustainable finance, both in Switzerland and abroad.

The Asset Management Association Switzerland (AMAS) believes its key roles include raising the standards of the Swiss asset management industry in sustainable finance and taking initiatives to continuously enhance the framework conditions for designing and managing collective sustainable investment products.

AMAS is now taking another important step in self-regulation of transparency and disclosure standards in sustainable collective asset schemes. "Self-regulation enhances the quality of collectively managed sustainable assets through binding standards, while improving transparency through comprehensive documentation and reporting obligations", said Iwan Deplazes, Chairman of AMAS.

For the first time, financial institutions that design and manage collective sustainable investment products will be subject to binding and self-regulated standards, along with disclosure obligations. Non-AMAS members may join this framework.

The key points of the self-regulation framework:

  • Asset management firms must be sufficiently familiar with sustainable issues at the level of their management and supervisory bodies and at the operating level, and ensure that infrastructure and resources are in place for meeting the investment strategy's sustainability requirements.
  • It lays down an all-encompassing obligation to document sustainability policies and approaches, as well as the metrics, datapoints and analysis tools used in the investment strategy and process. The principles of actively practiced stewardship must also be explained.
  • Exclusions or incorporation of ESG criteria are no longer sufficient to deem a financial product "sustainable".
  • Firms are required to report to investors in a way that makes sustainability goals transparent, using comparable indicators.
"With this self-regulation framework, the Swiss asset management industry is making a crucial contribution to sustainability, in accordance with the guidelines of the Swiss Federal Council's financial market strategy and the common goal of positioning Switzerland as a leading hub for sustainable finance", said Adrian Schatzmann, CEO of AMAS.

The voluntary self-regulation framework was developed under a broad-based approach. It will come into force on 30 September 2023. With its explicit references to both institutional and product levels, it dovetails with the self-regulation process of client advisory that the Swiss Bankers Association has introduced.

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