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Swiss banking

Market access

Access to foreign markets is of strategic importance for ensuring the Swiss financial centre’s ability to remain competitive.

The preservation of a significant portion of added value and jobs in Switzerland also depends on the future success of the banks in Switzerland in asserting their position as one of the leading global financial centres. Autonomous action alone will not bring about the desired results for protecting market(s) access. In order to gain market access, political agreement must also be reached with the various partner states. Different measures should be taken simultaneously to this end, as a number of goals are likely attainable in the shorter-term, while others will require more time.

There are three different types of market access:

  • Onshore presence: A Swiss bank services its foreign customers through a subsidiary and/or branch in the customer’s country of domicile.
  • Active cross-border: Existing foreign customers are serviced and new customers are actively acquired out of Switzerland.
  • Passive cross-border: Existing customers abroad are provided with standard services and/or if applicable, new customers are acquired abroad, but only on the customers’ own initiative. 

Why is market access important?

  • Private banking: More than half the assets managed in Switzerland originate from to foreigners, over 40% of these assets are estimated to belong to Europeans.
  • Asset management: Swiss banks can manage EU-based collective investment schemes, provide institutional asset management for pension funds in the EU, and sell Swiss financial products in the EU.
  • Corporate clients business: Currency transactions, bond and equity issues in the other EU countries, are facilitated for Swiss banks.

Goal: Securing non-discriminatory market access abroad

Switzerland is striving to secure non-discriminatory market access to EU/EEA markets as well as to growth regions in order to preserve its ability to export Swiss financial services and foster future growth.



Staggered strategies with varying time horizons: Binational negotiations, EU equivalence, (F)SA .

Short-term: Secure opening of markets in key partner states 

Continuation or initiation of binational negotiations with key partner states, both in the EU as well as in growth markets. The Swiss State Secretariat for International Financial Matters is currently negotiating with France and Italy. With Germany, the implementation of a simplified authorisation regime could successfully be completed in July 2015.

Medium-term: Secure market access to the European domestic market

Development of a recognition process for the equivalence of Swiss financial market legislation by the EU, which is foreseen by the EU and which would be required/sensible for cross-border market access . There is an immediate need for action in terms of establishing equivalence for the AIFMD, EMIR and MiFID II/MiFIR dossiers. 

Long-term: Initiate exploratory discussions regarding a sectoral agreement for financial services (FSA) with the EU Commission. 

Switzerland ascertains the EU’s readiness for an FSA , and conducts an in-depth review of the necessary legal and material amendments in Switzerland.

Which dossiers is Switzerland currently aiming to achieve EU equivalence for?

  • Switzerland should have comparable and equivalent regulation to the EU on the key points in fundamental areas of regulation. Current examples are the FMIA or the FFSA/FinIA .
  • Using EU rules as a basis only makes sense if this is conducive to the competitiveness of the financial centre. However, in areas where applying these rules does not improve competitiveness or market access, or where the result would be over-regulation, such an approach should be categorically dispensed with. Instead, the available legislative scope in Switzerland (in the liberal sense) should be utilised.
  • With regard to the EU, it should be ensured that procedure and content-related requirements for the obtainment of an equivalency decision become more reliable (entitlement ) and the processes for obtainment of equivalence become more readily assessable (legal certainty). Also important is that this process is concluded in a timelier manner. We are not, however, striving for a general subordination of the Swiss financial market legislation under EU equivalence.