Structure And Organisation

The National Bank was founded by virtue of the Federal Act on the Swiss National Bank, which entered into force on 16 January 1906. Business was started on 20 June 1907.

The National Bank as a joint-stock company


The National Bank was founded by virtue of the Federal Act on the Swiss National Bank, which entered into force on 16 January 1906. Business was started on 20 June 1907.


The National Bank is a joint-stock company governed by special provisions of federal law. It is administered with the cooperation and under the supervision of the Confederation in accordance with the provisions of the National Bank Act. Its shares are registered shares and are listed on the stock exchange. The share capital amounts to CHF 25 million, approximately 55% of which is held by public shareholders (cantons, cantonal banks, etc.). The remaining shares are largely in the hands of private persons. The Confederation does not hold any shares.


Independence, accountability and relationship with the Confederation


The independence of the Swiss National Bank is embodied as a principle in the Constitution. It entails various aspects, which are set out in detail in the National Bank Act. The functional independence consists in the formal prohibition of the National Bank and its statutory bodies to accept instructions from the Federal Council, the Federal Assembly or any other body in fulfilling its monetary tasks (authority to act independent of instructions). The financial independence includes both the budgetary autonomy of the SNB and the prohibition to grant loans to the Confederation, which bars the state from accessing the banknote press. The independence of the National Bank in personnel issues, finally, is ensured by the fact that the members of the Governing Board and their deputies during their fixed term of office can be removed from office only if they no longer fulfil the requirements for exercising the office or if they have committed a grave offence.


As a counterbalance to independence, the Act places a three-fold accountability on the SNB: vis-à-vis the Federal Council, the Federal Assembly and the public. With the Federal Council, the SNB regularly discusses the economic situation, monetary policy and topical issues of federal economic policy. Formally, the Federal Council’s Delegation for General Economic Policy and the National Bank’s Governing Board inform each other at periodic meetings. To the Federal Assembly, the SNB submits a written report on the fulfilment of its statutory tasks on an annual basis, and it elaborates on its monetary policy to the competent committees. The public, finally, is informed by the National Bank through quarterly reports on the development of the real economy and of the monetary situation, and the Bank publicly announces its monetary policy intentions. By explaining its policy on a regular basis and rendering account of its decisions, the SNB makes its activities transparent.


As the National Bank fulfils a public task, it is by Constitution administered with the cooperation and under the supervision of the Confederation. The National Bank is constituted as a special statute joint-stock company; the Confederation does not hold any of its shares. The Federal Council, therefore, exercises its cooperation and supervision with regard to the administration of the SNB through various powers of appointment and approval: it appoints the majority of the Bank Council members (six out of eleven) as well as the three members of the Governing Board and their deputies. In addition, the Federal Council approves the organisation regulations of the SNB, and the SNB must submit the annual report and the annual accounts to the Federal Council for approval before they are approved by the General Meeting of Shareholders. In this way, the Swiss government ensures that the National Bank is managed properly and efficiently.


Organisation (as at January 2007)


Organisation regulations


The organisation of the SNB is regulated in the National Bank Act and in organisation regulationsorganisation regulations.


Geographical structure


The National Bank has two seats: one in Berne and one in Zurich. Moreover, it maintains one branch with cash distribution services (in Geneva) and five representative offices (in Basel, Lausanne, Lugano, Lucerne and St Gallen). In addition, it has 16 agencies operated by cantonal banks and serving the country’s supply of money.


General Meeting of Shareholders


The General Meeting of Shareholders is held once a year, as a rule in April. Owing to the SNB’s public mandate, the powers of the Shareholders’ Meeting are not as extensive as in joint-stock companies under private law.


Bank Council


The Bank CouncilBank Council oversees and controls the conduct of business by the National Bank. It consists of 11 members. Six members, including the President and Vice-President, are appointed by the Federal Council, and five by the Shareholders’ Meeting. The Bank Council sets up four committees from its own ranks: an Audit Committee, a Risk Committee, a Remuneration Committee and an Appointment Committee.


Bank management


The National Bank’s supreme managing and executive body is the Governing BoardGoverning Board. It is in particular responsible for monetary policy, asset investment strategy and international monetary cooperation.


The Enlarged Governing Board consists of the three members of the Governing Board and their deputies. It is responsible for the strategic and operational management of the SNB.


The members of the Governing Board and their deputies are appointed for a six-year term by the Federal Council upon recommendation of the Bank Council. Re-election is possible.


Internal organisation


The National Bank is divided into three Departments. The organisational units of Departments I and III are for the most part located in Zurich and those of Department II in Berne.


The scope of business of Department I includes: International Affairs, Economic Affairs, Legal and Administrative Affairs, Human Resources, Communications.
The scope of business of Department II includes: Cash, Finance and Controlling, Financial Stability and Oversight, Security.


The scope of business of Department III includes: Money Market and Foreign Exchange, Asset Management, Risk Management, Banking Operations, Information Technology.


The Secretariat General is the staff unit of the Governing Board and the Bank Council. It reports to the Governing Board and, in an administrative sense, belongs to Department I.


The Internal Auditors unit reports to the President of the Bank Council.


The number of staff employed by the SNB amounted to 522 persons at the end of 2006 (converted in full-time equivalents).


Environmental management


The SNB has maintained an environmental management system since 1996 and conducts an annual environmental performance evaluation.


. "Swiss National Bank." . . Swiss National Bank. 1.31.08 <>.