Ombudsman affiliation requirement: new limitations

On 25 September 2020, Parliament adopted the Federal Act on the Adaptation of Federal Law to Developments in Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT bill), with the aim to keep Switzerland a leading, innovative and sustainable location in the blockchain and DLT sector.

As part of the parliamentary deliberations on the DLT, the Swiss Parliament also adopted amendments to the Financial Services Act (FinSA) and the Financial Institutions Act (FinIA) with regards to the ombudsman affiliation requirement which will come into force on February 1 2021

It’s been decided that the ombudsman affiliation requirement will apply only to those financial service providers that serve retail clients and not to those serving solely institutional or professional clients. Furthermore, financial institutions that provide no financial services do not have to be affiliated to an ombudsman.

The current legal situation requires all financial service providers to be affiliated to an ombudsman by 25 December 2020, but since the affiliation requirement for financial service providers serving solely institutional or professional clients would be contrary to the most recent decisions of the parliament, it has been agreed with FINMA that the supervisory authority will not enforce this requirement in the period from 26 December 2020 to 31 January 2021.

The Federal Council is expected to make its final decision on the matter in mid-December 2020.