A SICAV is a company whose capital and number of shares are not specified in advance and whose capital is divided into company and investor shares; for whose liabilities only the company's assets are liable; and whose sole object is collective capital in-vestment (Art. 36 CISA). SICAVs are established under the provisions of the Swiss Code of Obligations applicable to the founding of a limited company but are exempt from the provisions governing non-cash contributions, non-cash acquisi-tions and special privileges (Art. 37 CISA).
A SICAV must be authorised by FINMA before it can begin operations. In addition, it must obtain approval for its constituting documents (i.e. its articles of association and investment regulations).
In the case of SICAVs, each sub-fund requires separate approval (Art. 15 para. 2 CISA). FINMA's approval must also be obtained before any new sub-funds are created within an existing SICAV.
The following are specific authorisation and approval requirements for SICAVs:
Since the institution and the product are inextricably linked, the articles of association must contain provisions for both. SICAVs must define investment regulations whose contents are based on the provisions of the fund contract, unless CISA or the articles of association provide otherwise (Art. 62b CISO). The investment regulations specify the investments, investment policy, investment restrictions, risk diversification and the risks associated with the investments.
It is important to distinguish between self-managed SICAVs and externally managed SICAVs. The latter may only delegate their administration to an authorised fund management company (Art. 51 para. 2 CISO). The SICAV may only delegate investment decisions to persons subject to recognised supervision (Art. 36 para. 3 CISA).
Unless expressly stated otherwise, the application process is identical for both types of SICAV.
Advance approval must be obtained from FINMA for all product-related changes which entail a change in the investment regulations. If there is any alteration to the basis on which authorisation was originally granted, permission must be obtained from FINMA before operations can be resumed. An application to this effect must be submitted to FINMA.
When applying for authorisation, application templates are available on the EHP survey and application platform and the following documents can be used. Further product-related documents are available on the Swiss collective investment schemes page.
Applicants must self-register to gain access to the EHP. They can do this via the FINMA homepage. Following self-registration and the review by FINMA, they will be able to access the EHP through the FINMA portal via two-factor identification.