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Open a Trust in Switzerland

Open a Trust in Switzerland

The concept of administering various financial assets through a trust was not available under the Swiss legislation up until recently. The country did not have a basic rule of law that defined the idea of a trust, as the country’s national legislation does not follow the Anglo-Saxon legal framework, which has a long tradition in regulating the concept of trust

This is caused by the fact that Switzerland follows the Roman legislation, which does not include regulations on the foundation of a trust and it is important to know that the Swiss Civil Code does not include provisions on this concept. However, Switzerland made relevant progress on this matter in the last decades and, in 2007, it ratified in its national law the Hague Convention, through which foreign trusts are recognized in this country; our team of consultants in company registration in Switzerland can offer an in-depth presentation on the provisions of the Swiss law

What is the purpose of a trust in Switzerland? 

The trust is a type of structure that can be used for the administration of wealth of various entities. Commonly, the trust is opened with the purpose of planning and administering the wealth of affluent families or of persons who have a high net worth value. 

In order to protect the interests of the family members, the trust is used as a way through which a trustee (the person who administers the trust) can develop various strategies for the preservation of the respective assets or even increasing their value. Our team of specialists in company registration in Switzerland can advise on the basic characteristics of a trust, which are presented below:

  • • the trustee must act in the best interest of the persons who are the beneficiaries of the trust;
  • • the trust is set up between a settlor, a trustee and the beneficiary (or beneficiaries);
  • • the settlor is the person who requests the foundation of a trust;
  • • the trustee can be a natural person or a legal entity acting in the name of the beneficiary;
  • • however, the manner in which the trustee handles the assets is done as requested by the settlor.

A trust is generally employed for managing the real estate properties of wealthy families or other types of assets, and it is especially designed with the purpose of creating asset protection strategies. Under this structure, the assets of wealthy persons are transferred into the possession of the trustee, but only with the purpose of administering the respective assets. It is necessary to know that under the Swiss legislation, the trust is not seen as a legal entity. 

What should one know on the Swiss trustees? 

As presented earlier, a trust is recognized in Switzerland as long as it is registered under the legislation of a foreign jurisdiction. Provided that the settlor will appoint a Swiss trustee, then the trust will become liable for taxation in Switzerland. Persons who are considering opening a trust in Switzerland should know that the trustees are not legally required to be registered with a local supervisory institution. 

However, the activities of trusts that operate in this country are supervised by the Swiss Association of Trust Companies (SATC), which was created with the purpose of establishing the minimum standards that have to be met by those operating a local trust. Even though the trustees do not have to be registered, they must follow the recommendations that were created by the SATC in 2012, prescribed under a “White Paper”.

What is the data on wealth management in Switzerland? 

Switzerland is known at a global level for its financial services sector; it is also the leading jurisdiction on wealth management services, especially for international assets. Foreigners choose Switzerland to have their assets managed here due the financial stability of the local market. Our team of specialists in Swiss company formation can advise on the wealth management options investors have, and it is important to know that this industry is characterized by the following: 

  • • at the level of 2017, the total value of the international assets that were administered here accounted for $1,84 trillion (CHF 1,95 billion);
  • • at the level of 2016, the assets managed here belonging to private investors accounted for CHF 420 billion;
  • • the asset management for corporate and institutional investors in 2016 accounted for CHF 820 billion;
  • • in 2016, there were 2,657 Swiss account holders and 2,702 foreign account holders; 
  • • out of these, the Swiss private customers had 513 accounts, while foreign private customers had 467 accounts. 

Persons interested in more details on other regulations related to the management of assets in Switzerland and the manner in which a trust can be recognized under the local legislation can address to our team of Swiss company formation specialists for personalized assistance on this matter.