Cheat sheet - The account opening process explained

Private clients

If you think that opening a bank account in Switzerland is complicated, the "cheat sheet" will show you the steps and you will see that once you have chosen a Swiss SEC-registered investment adviser, the going is easy. Your Swiss SEC RIA will take care of all the paperwork and formalities and walk you through the steps. You don't even have to leave home to do open an account and establish a relationship with your Swiss SEC RIA . If desired, you can also include your present trusted adviser in the process.

Professional advisers

You can provide added value to your clients by co-counseling with a Swiss SEC RIA on adding the dimension of jurisdictional diversification to their overall strategy including an internationally-diversified investment portfolio that complements the one at home. The "cheat sheet" will show you the steps.

The Swiss Bank Account Opening Process:

Why Switzerland ➜ Learn why Switzerland is an ideal home for a portion of your assets and go to "Why Switzerland"


Learn about Legal and Compliance issues ➜ "Legal & Compliance"

Minimum amount of investment ➜ Determine your approximate amount of investment (often there are minimum requirements noted in the Swiss SEC RIA's ADV Part 2 brochure).

Find a Swiss SEC RIA ➜ Go to “Swiss SEC-registered investment advisers” and make a selection.

Read the SEC registration ➜ Contains information about the Swiss SEC RIA’s business.

Read the ADV Part 2 Brochure ➜ ADV Part 2 brochure describes, in a narrative format, the Swiss SEC RIA’s business practices, fees etc.

Read the ADV Part 3 Brochure ➜ ADV Part 3 brochure is a Client Relationship Summary for your review

Review choice with your local, trusted adviser (optional) ➜ Review the choice of your Swiss SEC RIA with your local, trusted adviser, if desired.

Initial contact ➜ Call or email your Swiss SEC RIA of choice to request an initial conversation and ask how you can prepare for the conversation on your side.

ADV Part 2 brochures ➜ Your Swiss SEC RIA's is obliged to send you their ADV Part 2 brochure and the ADV Part 2b brochure of the client relationship manager before you begin discussions.

Initial conversation ➜ Consider the amount of investment, the timeframe and your risk appetite, your preferred regions and kinds of investments. Discuss specific needs e.g. ESG investing, estate planning, trusts etc. Your Swiss SEC RIA is also well-versed in complex multi-jurisdictional, multi-generational issues. Your local, trusted adviser can join in, if desired.

Strategy ➜ Discuss and determine the overall strategy you are interested in, e.g. Conservative, Balanced, Dynamic, ESG investing or other special strategies etc.

Mandate ➜ Discuss and choose between a Discretionary Mandate (managed by your Swiss SEC RIA) or an Advisory Mandate (advice received from your Swiss SEC RIA, but final decisions are your own).

Mandate agreement ➜ Your Swiss SEC RIA provides you with the necessary mandate agreement to be signed.

Fees ➜ Fees are stated in the ADV Part 2 brochure. Depending on the amount of investment, fees may be negotiated. Your Swiss SEC RIA explains how the fees are charged to your account.

Proposal/Information ➜ Request and review initial proposal/information.

Discuss proposal/information with your local, trusted adviser (optional) ➜ If desired, discuss proposal/information with your local, trusted adviser.

Fine tune proposal ➜ If required, fine tune your proposal with your Swiss SEC RIA.

Custodian bank ➜ Your Swiss SEC RIA recommends one or more custodian banks, the choice is yours. Swiss banks take care of  the FATCA regulations. A US custodian may also be an option (no FATCA, FBAR, 8938 etc. reporting involved).

Opening a Swiss bank account from the US ➜  A Swiss bank account can be opened from the US from the comfort of your home.

*Personal meeting (optional) ➜ If a personal meeting is required, decide if it is to take place in Switzerland, in the United States, or in another country. *This is on hold at the moment due to travel restrictions.

Account opening formalities ➜ Your Swiss SEC RIA provides the necessary paperwork to open your account with the custodian bank and explains and walks you through the formalities, either over the phone or in person.

Get required documents ➜ Organize the documents you need for the account opening formalities, e.g. notarized passport copy etc.

Submit your account opening forms and documents ➜ Submit your forms and documents to your Swiss SEC RIA who checks them for accuracy and passes them to the custodian bank.

Monitor account opening process ➜ Your Swiss SEC RIA monitors the account opening process and gets back to you if additional information is required.

Confirm establishment of account ➜ Your Swiss SEC RIA confirms the date your account has been established and provides you with the documents.

Transfer funds to your account ➜ Your Swiss SEC RIA provides you with wire transfer instructions to your account with the custodian bank. You instruct your present bank to make the transfer accordingly.

Funds are invested ➜ The funds are invested according to your mandate agreement with the Swiss SEC RIA.

Monitoring/rebalancing your portfolio ➜ Your Swiss SEC RIA monitors and rebalances your portfolio, provides reporting and discusses details with you regularly. Your Swiss SEC RIA is never more than a phone call or click away.

FATCA reporting ➜ The custodian bank is responsible for adhering to FATCA regulations. No action on your part is required.

Your reporting requirements ➜ The custodian bank provides the documents needed for you to fulfill all reporting requirements. Your Swiss SEC RIA will pass them on to you. Read “Reporting requirements”.

Paying taxes ➜ You will pay taxes due accordingly.

Consult a tax adviser ➜ You can consult an experienced, Swiss-based US tax adviser and involve your local tax expert, if required. See “US tax advisers”


Please note: This cheat sheet is an indication of the steps involved and may vary depending on the individual Swiss SEC RIA and custodian bank.

This cheat sheet is for your information only and are not intended as an offer, promotion, or solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument or perform any other financial transactions. All information and opinions expressed in the publications reflect current views as of the date of publication and may be liable to change without notice.

info@americanswelcome.swiss | +41 79 767 07 58 | From the US: 01141 79 767 07 58 | Contact
Follow AWS:   LinkedIn   |   Twitter    |   Facebook   |  Instagram
AWS is not in the position to provide US tax advice or suggestions and you must consult with a qualified tax expert.
AWS is independent and unbiased and does not recommend, prefer, endorse, solicit or discourage any particular listed Swiss SEC RIA, other service provider or wealth management-related product. Furthermore, the website content, opinions, privacy policies or services provided are their own and are not endorsed by AWS in any way. This publication is for your information only and is not intended as an offer, promotion, or solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument or perform any other financial transactions. All information and opinions expressed in this publication reflect our current views as of the date of the publication and may be liable to change without notice. Please read the disclaimer.