FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Why independence and accessibility of the FinSA Ombudsman Office are key criteria to consider ?

Is FINSOM competent to handle your complaint ?

FINSOM is competent to handle complaints or mediation requests regarding civil matters from clients and/or employees of financial service providers who have affiliated to FINSOM for Commercial Mediation or Workplace Mediation.

If you are a client or investor and you suspect that an institution supervised by FINMA is in breach of regulations or if you have specific reasons to believe that a provider is not authorised by FINMA or listed in a Registry of Advisors, you can report this to FINMA.

If you are an employee of an employer subject to the Labour Act, you can report this to the competent cantonal occupational health and safety authority or the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)

How do I know if a company is affiliated with FINSOM ? Does FINSOM publish a list of financial services providers ?

By law and according to FINSOM’s regulations, affiliated companies are required to inform their clients and/or employees of their affiliation:

  • At the beginning of a business or working relationship
  • In the event of a complaint
  • At any time at their request

FINSOM does not publish a list of affiliated service providers. However, if the above information is not provided by the financial service provider :

What is the role of the FinSA Ombudsman Office and its legal mandate ?

In addition to mediation (Art. 75 FinSA), a mediation body recognised by the FDF publishes an annual activity report (Art. 86 FinSA), decides on the admission or exclusion of a company (art. 82 FinSA), informs and exchanges information within the framework of market supervision (Art. 83 and 88 FinSA).

As usual, Swiss law remains faithful to a regulation by principles. In order to interpret the provisions of the FinSA or to understand the role of the Ombudsman Office and its legal mandate, it is necessary to read the World Bank’s 2012 report on mediation in the financial sector, which is a main basis of the Swiss regulation.

Who funds the mediation body and the proceedings ?

The financing of a basic infrastructure necessary to manage the affiliations and the information duty of the mediation body (Art. 83 FinSA), regardless of the number of proceedings, is shared collectively by the affiliated companies while respecting the principle of causality (art. 80 FinSA).

Each company also finances procedures that concern it. According to art. 75 FinSA, the mediation procedure must be inexpensive or even free of charge for the client. It should also be cheaper than legal proceedings for the company.

FINSOM applies these principles to both Commercial Mediation and Workplace Mediation.

Is there a litigation costs fund ?

The reverse onus, the litigation costs fund and the arbitral tribunal, which were highly controversial instruments in the consultation, were abandoned, the last two in favour of more moderate fee regulation. The rule on the collective application of the law (group settlement procedure and class action) should not be limited to financial service providers, which is why it is being considered as part of the implementation of 13.3931 (Birrer-Heimo) by Parliament. On the other hand, the mediation bodies are being strengthened. According to the FinSA, all providers must also join a mediation body that already exists or is to be created.

For further information

Why is FINSOM's FinSA procedure free for clients ?

By law, the mediation procedure must be inexpensive or even free of charge for the client. This leaves the choice to the mediation bodies to charge a symbolic contribution to the client or not.

The main purpose of a financial contribution from the client would be to prevent abusive requests for mediation. FINSOM refrains from fixing a financial contribution to the client for the following reasons, among others:

  • Such fees can discourage clients from using the mediation body, which is not the aim of the law.
  • The law sets sufficient conditions to avoid abusive complaints or requests for mediation by clients.

Is FINSOM's annual base tax a trap ?

No, FINSOM’s annual base tax is not a trap. It is similar to the annual base tax of the Banking Ombudsman of the Swiss Bankers’ Association.

Does FINSOM give discounts ?

Yes but according to the principle of causality and FINSOM’s discounts are transparent.

Compared to a flat-rate system, the discounts are already included in the method of calculating the annual base tax and take into account the risk of causality.

FINSOM does not grant discounts for bringing in affiliations or procedures, or membership in a particular group, association or SRO, which are not causal criteria.

Who must affiliate to a FinSA mediation body ?

Financial services providers as defined under the Financial Services Act (FinSA).

Exemptions.