The new Swiss Financial Services Act (FinSA) came into force on 1 January 2020. Among other things, it is intended to strengthen investor protection and the Swiss financial centre and to create comparable conditions for financial service providers.
When we provide you with financial services such as the execution of securities transactions (execution-only), investment advisory services or asset management, or when we grant you credit for the execution of such transactions, we must comply with various rules of conduct, particularly with regard to information, organisation, documentation and advertising.
For clients who are domiciled in Switzerland or outside the EU/EEA and who obtain a financial service according to FinSA (for instance, hold a portfolio), the provisions of FinSA apply as of 1 January 2021. Clients who are under the care of the departments “EAM Desk” and “Institutional Investors” are exempt from this. These clients will be informed about the switch to FinSA in the second half of 2021.
Since January 2018, the revised European Union (EU) Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) has applied to investment services and activities provided in the European Economic Area (EEA).
MiFID II is intended to strengthen investor protection, increase market transparency and further harmonize the European financial market. MiFID II is supplemented by a large number of more precise delegated acts and guidelines with detailed provisions.
More information on this matter can be found here:
Acting in the interests of customers is the guiding principle that shapes our customer relationship. We expect diligence and lawful and professional behavior and action from our employees at all times, observance of market standards and, in particular, constant observation of customer interests.
You can find more information on the conflicts of interest here:
Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI)
The AEOI is implemented in Switzerland under the Federal Act on the International Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters (AEOI Act) and the corresponding ordinance (AEOI Ordinance). The AEOI aims to prevent tax evasion when assets are held abroad by requiring financial institutions, insurance companies and investment undertakings to collect financial information about their clients liable to tax abroad and to report this information annually to the competent authorities of the client’s country of residence via their national tax authority. St.Galler Kantonalbank AG must also comply with the AEOI. This means that, on the one hand, it is required to identify and document the tax domicile of its clients and, on the other hand, it must report certain client and financial data to the FTA on an annual basis.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)
FATCA stands for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and is a unilateral U.S. tax law that aims to procure information worldwide to combat tax evasion by U.S. persons. It is primarily aimed at financial institutions worldwide and requires them to periodically provide the U.S. tax authorities with information on so-called U.S. accounts.
To facilitate compliance with these requirements, Switzerland has concluded a treaty with the USA and has enacted a FATCA law on this basis. Based on this law, Swiss financial institutions, including St.Galler Kantonalbank AG (SGKB), are required to identify all U.S. persons, document them and report periodically to the IRS. If a person refuses to provide the relevant information, a 30-per-cent withholding tax must be withheld and paid to the IRS. In addition, this person must be reported anonymously to the IRS in an aggregated report as part of the annual reporting process. Based on this, the USA has the option to submit a group request to the Swiss Federal Tax Authority to obtain the reportable information of these anonymously reported clients. SGKB is not willing to enter into client relationships with persons who refuse to provide the requested information.
A client is considered a U.S. person, and therefore taxable in the United States, if (alternatively):
- they are resident in the USA
- they have American citizenship (including dual citizens)
- they have a green card
- they have resided in the USA for at least 183 days in the current and previous two years.
U.S. persons are identified when a new client relationship is opened by obtaining a specific self-certification. If a person indicates that they are taxable in the USA, they must sign the official U.S. form W-9 and a waiver so that they can be properly reported to the U.S. tax authorities. In addition, further bank-specific requirements must be met in order to open an account at all. If a person refuses to provide the necessary information, it is not possible to open an account. When opening a business relationship, entities must also complete a self-certification to clarify their FATCA status and classify themselves as an active, passive or other entity or financial institution (see also the fact sheet on the classification of companies for FATCA and AEOI above).
Qualified Intermediary Agreement (QI)
In 2001, the USA introduced a new withholding tax procedure for income and equity on U.S. securities. Since then, banks that wish to acquire, hold or sell U.S. direct investments for themselves or their clients are required to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). With this agreement, the banks undertake to identify and document their clients in accordance with U.S. rules if the clients wish to hold U.S. securities. The aim of the agreement is to ensure that U.S. clients are reported to the IRS on the one hand, and that U.S. withholding tax is correctly levied and paid to the IRS on U.S. income received by non-U.S. clients on the other. In return, the banks may grant non-U.S. clients a reduced U.S. withholding tax rate on U.S. income in accordance with the double taxation agreements with the USA.
St.Galler Kantonalbank has entered into such an agreement with the IRS and has since been granted Qualified Intermediary (QI) status. It is therefore obliged to comply with the above-mentioned regulations.
The identification and documentation of clients is carried out in the same way as for FATCA: a self-certification must be completed and signed to clarify the QI status when a new client relationship is opened or, in the case of existing clients, at the latest before the acquisition of U.S. securities. If a person indicates that they are taxable in the USA, they must sign the official U.S. form W-9 and a waiver so that the subsequent reports can be made correctly. There are no further formalities for natural persons who are not taxable in the USA. They may hold U.S. securities and benefit from the U.S. withholding tax rate applicable to their country of residence under the double taxation agreement with the USA. Entities must fill out specific internal forms to determine the status relevant for QI.
Since September 3, 2020, new information and disclosure requirements have been in force in connection with the EU Shareholder Rights Directive II ("SRDII").
The Directive is intended to facilitate direct communication between companies domiciled in a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA) and their investors and to facilitate the exercise of shareholder rights. For further details on the main changes resulting from the Shareholder Rights Directive II, please refer to the following links:
St.Galler Kantonalbank AG
BIC / Swiftcode
Handelsregister Kanton St. Gallen
|Board of Directors||Thomas A. Gutzwiller, Chairman
Adrian Rüesch, Vice-chairman
Claudia Gietz Viehweger
|Management Board||Christian Schmid,Chairman
Falk Kohlmann, Head of Service Center
René Walser, Head of Retail and Commercial Clients
Patrick Graf, Head of Corporate Center
Hanspeter Wohlwend, Head of Private Banking
|Address St.Galler Kantonalbank||St.Galler Kantonalbank Ltd.
St. Leonhardstrasse 25
CH-9001 St. Gallen
T 071 231 31 31
Eidgenössische Finanzmarktaufsicht FINMA
Eidgenössische Finanzmarktaufsicht FINMA
Telefon: +41 31 327 91 00
Fax: +41 31 327 91 01
Procedure before the ombudsman service
In case of disputes about legal claims between the client and SGKB, the client is entitled to contact the Swiss Banking Ombudsman (i.e. Swiss Banking Ombudsman, Bahnhofplatz 9, CH-8021 Zurich). This procedure is free of costs for the client concerned and aims to resolve the legal dispute by means of dispute resolution and reconciliation. As a rule, the ombudsman will only be appointed after a written client complaint has been received, together with a corresponding statement from the bank.Impressum