FINMA is a public-law institution. Its objectives are set out in the Financial Market Supervision Act, which mandates it to protect individual financial-market clients and to ensure that the Swiss financial markets function properly. These two objectives are interdependent, since the financial institutions themselves depend on the trust placed in them by their clients to maintain their competitive edge in the international arena.
The first and most important requirement for a stable and functioning financial system is to ensure that the institutions under FINMA supervision remain solvent. A key task for FINMA is therefore to monitor those institutions to ensure that they have firm control of the risks which could threaten them, and ultimately the functioning of the entire financial system. The aim here is to enhance and safeguard the stability of the financial system and to promote trust in the financial markets.
One of FINMA's core objectives is to protect all clients of financial institutions - creditors, investors and policyholders - against institutional insolvency, disreputable business practices and to ensure equitable stock exchange execution. Claims filed by individual clients cannot be decided by FINMA. They must be settled through civil-law proceedings, or by an ombudsman in an arbitration procedure.
The supervisory activities carried out by FINMA also serve to enhance the competitiveness and reputation of the Swiss financial marketplace. FINMA fulfils this requirement by pursuing its goals in line with professional standards and by adopting a consistent approach to its supervisory duties. Its paramount objectives are to act with independence and credibility, to take due account of risk, to uphold the law, and to maintain an appropriate network of contacts at the national and international level.