Official launch of Limited Qualified Investor Funds in Switzerland on March 1, 2024 - Banking blog

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With the enactment of the amended Collective Investment Schemes Act and Ordinance on March 1, 2024, the Limited Qualified Investor Fund (L-QIF) is now officially launched in Switzerland. As it does not require FINMA approval, it is an attractive, cost-efficient alternative to the Luxembourg RAIF, for example. The new scheme is restricted to qualified investors and must be managed by a regulated fund manager. However, like other collective investment schemes, it is also subject to the Swiss withholding tax, which makes it a less attractive option for international investors.

Background

The Swiss fund market has been dominated for many years by foreign funds, particularly from Luxembourg. The Swiss legislator has recognised this problem. With the introduction of the Limited Qualified Investor Fund (L-QIF), the parliament aims to strengthen Switzerland's competitiveness as a fund and asset management centre by increasing the number of collective investment schemes.

The amendment to the Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA), together with the amended Investment Schemes Ordinance, entered into force on March 1, 2024. The L-QIF is now officially launched in Switzerland.

What is a Limited Qualified Investor Fund?

The Limited Qualified Investor Fund (L-QIF) is a collective investment scheme open exclusively to qualified investors. The L-QIF is not a legal form itself, but can be established as a contractual investment fund, investment company with variable capital (SICAVs), or a limited partnership for collective investment (LP or KmGK). An L-QIF can be structured as an open-end or closed-end fund. Although the L-QIF itself does not require authorisation from the Swiss Financial Market Authority (FINMA), it must be managed by an institution supervised by FINMA. The term "management" is a generic term for the activities mentioned in the law, such as administration, management, and investment decisions. Furthermore, there is an obligation to report to the Federal Department of Finance the establishment or dissolution of the fund and data from statistical surveys on business activities.

By eliminating the FINMA authorisation and approval process for L-QIFs, collective investment schemes for qualified investors can now be launched much more quickly and cost effectively than before, which represents a significant improvement on the status quo, especially for collective investment schemes with a focus on alternative investments (private equity, venture capital, infrastructure, private debt). In many respects, the newly introduced L-QIF is similar to the Luxembourg Reserved Alternative Investment Fund (RAIF) regime.

Swiss Tax Aspects

From a tax perspective there is no special treatment for the L-QIF compared to other collective investment schemes, which is both positive and negative. The L-QIF is governed by circular no. 24 of the Swiss Federal Tax Administration and therefore enjoys favourable treatment in terms of stamp duty and VAT. Insofar as the fund does not hold direct real estate, it is also treated transparently for income tax. However, distributions and reinvested net income are subject to 35% withholding tax. This is currently a major obstacle to the use of the L-QIF for some groups of investors and foreign investors. As all funds are treated in the same way as other funds, tax reporting for individuals holding the units in their private assets must also be prepared by the L-QIF.

Our View

The L-QIF is a simple, cost-effective instrument for qualified investors which can be compared with the Luxembourg RAIF. However, due to the Swiss withholding tax obligation, the L-QIF may be less suitable for international investment structures.

Please reach out to our Deloitte tax and legal experts to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this newly launched collective investment scheme in more detail.

Key contacts

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Thomas Hug - Partner, National Tax Office

Thomas is the leader of Deloitte Switzerland's National Tax Office. He has a proven track record of being at the forefront of international tax developments and analysing their impact from a Swiss tax technical perspective. Thomas has published thought-leading articles and books, and is frequently asked by industry groups, universities and tax and accounting associations to make presentations or lead seminars. He serves as a substitute judge at the Zurich Tax Court of Appeal.

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Petrit Ismajli - Partner, Financial Service Tax & Legal

Petrit is a Partner and co-leads the Financial Services Tax practice in Switzerland. He has more than 15 years of experience in FSI Tax and international corporate tax matters. Petrit joined Deloitte from another Big4 where he was FS Tax Partner in charge of corporate tax, customer tax, operational tax and VAT. Previously, he worked for numerous years as the Head of Tax of the Swiss Bankers Association where he gained profound and broad banking industry and tax knowledge thanks to extensive work in various steering committees (private banking, asset management, retail banking).

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Danielle Koyuncu - Director, Financial Services Tax

Danielle is a Director in the financial services Swiss tax team, specialized in advising financial institutions in the banking, insurance and asset management investment area. Danielle is a Swiss Certified Tax Expert with more than 15 years of experience in corporate international taxation and Swiss VAT. She holds a university degree in Business Administration and Master of Law of the University of Bern.

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Anita Preuss - Director, Financial Service Tax 

Anita Preuss is heading up Deloitte’s Financial Services Investment Management Tax practice in Switzerland. She has 20 years of corporate tax experience whereof nearly 15 years of providing market leading fund tax reporting services within both the regulated and alternative fund industry. Anita has extensive experience in standardization and automation which enables her to ensure constantly improving client service. She joined Deloitte from another big4 firm.

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