Investment of assets
Nature and purpose of the SNB's assets
The assets of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) fulfil important monetary policy functions. They consist of foreign currency assets, gold and, to a lesser extent, financial assets in Swiss francs. Their size and composition are determined by the established monetary order and the requirements of monetary policy.
Breakdown of assets
At the end of 2012, the SNB’s balance sheet total was CHF 499 billion, which was CHF 153 billion higher than a year earlier (2011: CHF 346 billion). This is mainly due to the growth in the currency reserves, which rose by CHF 171 billion to CHF 485 billion in the space of a year. The bulk of this growth resulted from foreign currency purchases, although valuation gains on the currency reserves also contributed.
Under art. 5 para. 2 of the National Bank Act (NBA), the SNB is responsible for managing the currency reserves. Currency reserves consist of foreign exchange reserves and gold. The National Bank holds currency reserves in order to have room for manoeuvre in monetary policy at any time. Currency reserves serve to prevent and overcome potential crises.
Asset management is governed by the primacy of monetary policy and is carried out in accordance with the criteria of security, liquidity and return. Assets are selected and managed according to generally accepted asset management principles, while taking into account the specific requirements of the SNB.
The SNB’s own Investment Policy Guidelines define the scope for its investments and for the investment and risk management process.