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Company management in Switzerland

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The number of new companies is constantly growing in Switzerland, due to the numerous advantages provided to local and foreign investors in terms of taxation, business environment, infrastructure, strategic geographical position and many more pros that could be added to the list of the reasons to invest in Switzerland.

However, what most investors probably don’t know is that company management in Switzerland involves a series of processes and activities that should be well-established and planned before registering a Swiss company.

Controlling all business aspects related to a company means also to comply with the Swiss legislation and with international legislation, rules and regulations in the case of companies that operate in several jurisdictions.  This can be a difficult task, especially when it comes to medium-sized and large companies. If in the case of a small business the company owner or owners can be “hands-on” in everything involving company management, more complex business structures require by law certain managing bodies.

In other words, every entrepreneur interested in company registration in Switzerland should also consider seeking professional advice and consultancy regarding not only the company formation process, but also regarding the company management needs and requirements.  Thus, company management involves, besides other important areas, the following:

Company administration

All companies that are incorporated in Switzerland need to have a registered office in the state and to provide contact details for communication with authorities, business partners and customers: a business address, phone number, fax and email.  The registered address can be simply obtained by renting an office space in a business center in Switzerland, especially if you don’t need much space for day-to-day activities.

Business relationships are usually established based on written contracts, regardless if a company is providing certain services in Switzerland or certain goods.  In the case of individual enterprises, it is required by law to have a certain number of customers to be able to work in Switzerland.

Another important aspect to consider is the number of employees the company needs, the requirements for each position and also the legislation regarding work permits for foreign employees. It is necessary to make sure that all legal requirements are fulfilled in order to be able to hire persons outside of Switzerland.

Accounting

As part of company management activities, each business structure must maintain accounting records as well as all accounting entries. This includes transactions and acquisitions, invoices and managing all accounts regardless if receivable or payable.

In addition, it is necessary to register the company for VAT purposes with the Tax and Customs Office in Switzerland, preparing and filling all statutory returns (corporate tax returns, VAT returns etc.)

Certain business structures also require annual total or partial audits performed by a certified auditor in Switzerland.

Financial activities

Besides accounting, Swiss companies must also maintain financial and operational reporting (balance sheet, profit and loss accounts) and manage the company bank account in Switzerland. The bank account that is opened with a Swiss bank for depositing the minimum required share capital becomes the said company’s business account after the company is registered.

Governing bodies

Any type of Swiss company is managed by an executive board, according to the Swiss legislation. The executive board is the governing body in charge with the company’s rights, responsibilities towards authorities, customers and business partners. The members of the board must ensure that the company operates and conducts its activities according to the rules and regulations in order. They are jointly responsible for any choices and decisions made regarding the company.

Although foreign citizens are allowed to open a company in Switzerland, in certain cases it is necessary to have at least one company director that is a resident of Switzerland.

Office etiquette in Switzerland

In Switzerland, it is expected that employers and employees conduct their daily activities following the principles of organization, punctuality and tolerance. Office culture is therefore a conservatory environment by tradition. A well-defined hierarchy is implemented throughout the company and important decisions are usually made by the top management. Things are a little different when it comes to international corporations that have subsidiaries, company branches or registered offices in Switzerland, as the company culture differs between organizations.

Business meetings are usually very brief and to the point. There is usually a list of topics that needs to be discussed and the business meeting has a task-oriented structure.

For job applications, it is recommended to send out CVs in the language specified in the job listing, due to the fact that Switzerland has four official languages. If any documents that accompany the application are not in English or in any of the official languages, it is helpful to have a certified translation available for the employer.

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