Custodian banks of collective investment schemes

Fund management companies, investment companies with variable capital (SICAVs) and investment companies with fixed capital (SICAFs) must designate a custodian bank for their collective investment schemes. Custodian banks must be authorised by FINMA.
Custodian banks take on an important function in relation to collective investment schemes managed by fund management companies, SICAVs and SICAFs. Unlike depositories and paying agents, custodian banks must be authorised by FINMA.

Authorisation requirements

To be eligible for a licence from FINMA, a custodian bank must meet at least the following requirements (under Art. 72 CISA, Art. 102a CISO and Art. 53 FinIO):

  • it must be a bank in accordance with the Banking Act;
  • it must have an organisation that is appropriate to its role as a custodian bank of collective investment schemes;
  • the custodian bank and the persons responsible for its administration and management must provide the guarantee of irreproachable business conduct;
  • the persons responsible for administration and management must enjoy a good reputation and have the specialist qualifications required for their functions;
  • it must have at least three full-time equivalent positions with signatory powers for its activities as a custodian bank;
  • those responsible for managing the fund management company must be independent of the custodian bank, and vice versa.

Role of a custodian bank

The role of a custodian bank includes holding fund assets on deposit, issuing and redeeming units, and handling payments processing. A custodian bank can delegate the safe keeping of fund assets to third-party or central securities depositories in Switzerland or abroad where this is appropriate. Investors must be informed in the fund prospectus and key information document of the risks associated with this kind of delegation (Art. 73 para. 2 CISA).

Custodian banks must also ensure that the fund management company or SICAV complies with the law and the fund regulations. It verifies that:

  • calculation of the net asset value and issue/redemption prices complies with the law and the fund regulations;
  • investment decisions comply with the law and the fund regulations;
  • profits are used in accordance with the fund regulations.

Changes in circumstances

Custodian banks must inform FINMA immediately if there are any personnel changes among those responsible for managing the (custodian) bank (Art. 16 CISA and Art. 15 para. 2 CISO).

Cessation of an activity for which authorisation is required

Any intention to cease the authorised activity requires prior approval from FINMA (Art. 16 CISA).

Information and templates

The following documents can be used when applying for authorisation, making changes requiring authorisation and/or switching custodian bank.