I would like to share a few words on our first experiences on the FinIA application. We submitted a few cases early Summer 2021.
What comes first to mind are two grand-father proverbs: “Accept what you can’t change”. Very few asset managers and trustees requested for the 2020 regulatory changes occurring on the Swiss marketplace, but they are now in force and must be lived with, so might as well adhere & embrace as soon as can be.
The second proverb should be: “Where there’s a will there’s a way”, in other words it means if you want to be an asset manager &/or a trustee in the FinIA World, there will be obstacles but it’s achievable. Several actors are out there to assist, namely fellow experienced compliance & risk specialists, dedicated consultancy firms as well as SO’s*.
On the other hand, it will be a time consuming and costly mistake to underestimate the extended scope of the exercise and necessary level of dedication required to succeed.
Here are a few obstacles & tips noted (up to now):
- Quality & coherence of the forms submitted (mandates and directives): If the intention is to copy / paste templates with a mentality “I do the same as my neighbour”, it’s highly unlikely it will be sufficient. The documentation has to be yours, what’s written & described, in particular controls, have to be what you do. Otherwise don’t file that down.
- EHP: The FINMA system is OK, but it does breakdown now and then, do keep that in mind throughout the process. The best is to have everything ready crisp & clear before starting the uploading process in the EHP
- EHP: By no means press the REMIT button in EHP before the greenlight is obtained from the SO
- EHP: Think about the people active in the SO* having to quickly find and read the documents you are referring to. Organise the docs, company_Name of the doc, Individual1_Name of doc, Individual2_Name of doc, etc…
- Base FINMA Form & GAI form: Spend time on these documents, their quality and “exactitude” are key in the success.
- Financials: The projections are equally important but don’t neglect where you come from. Speak about your outgoing year in conjunction with the (audited) financials you are submitting.
- The business plan: a one pager and a half will not even be considered. Build your application. It’s half a beauty contest, where you show your best profile, half an honest description of where you come from and where you are going. No path is a straight route, so the complexities in your business and assessed risks have to be highlighted and mitigated.
In conclusion, it’s not climbing the Everest, but what a journey. Nobody was expecting the FinSA application to be easy, well it is not. But it’s achievable, it’s a strong collaboration between the candidate, the compliance firm (when applicable) and the SOs. The Financial intermediary wanting the “Sesame” the most will get there. Others…
Recent Feedback (05.07.2021) :
J’ai fait appel à M. Berclaz de Berclaz & Associés à Genève pour accompagner notre société dans le processus d’affiliation LEFIN et LSFIN auprès de la FINMA. M. Berclaz a démontré un professionnalisme hors normes et a accompli un travail gigantesque pour cette procédure qui est très lourde. M. Berclaz s’est montré extrêmement disponible et réactif tout au long du processus et je ne peux que le recommander à tous les gérants! Si je peux me permettre un conseil à ceux qui n’ont pas encore commencé la procédure, c’est de vous y atteler dès à présent car le travail à fournir est conséquent.
Open translation in English – I called on Mr. Berclaz from Berclaz & Associés in Geneva to support our company in the FinIA and FinSA affiliation process with FINMA. Mr. Berclaz has demonstrated exceptional professionalism and has accomplished a gigantic job for this procedure, which is very cumbersome. Mr. Berclaz was extremely available and responsive throughout the process, and I can only recommend him to all asset managers! If I can allow myself one piece of advice to those who have not yet started the procedure, it is to get down to it now because the work to be done is substantial.
Mr Stéphane P., Managing Director, Gestionnaire Indépendant
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Berclaz & Associés Legal & Compliance is a Swiss company specialising in the outsourcing of Compliance & Risk functions and Legal & regulatory advice. Our clients are Family Offices, Independent Asset Managers, Company & Trust service providers, Trading companies and Banks. Numerous references on request.