(Free) reserves

Income which a company may freely dispose of.

(Open) reserves

Legal and optional reserves appearing on the balance sheet.

(Undisclosed) reserves

Difference between the equity appearing on the balance sheet and actual equity.

Accident insurance (AI)

Mandatory insurance of associates (in the majority of cases) with the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund [Caisse nationale suisse d’assurance en cas d'accident (Suva)] or with another union.

Accident insurance (AI)

Mandatory insurance of associates (in the majority of cases) with the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund [Caisse nationale suisse d’assurance en cas d'accident (Suva)] or with another union.


Classification of all receipts and disbursements, meaning all receivables and payables.

Accrued liabilities

Payments concerning the current financial year, but for which invoicing or payment will only be made during the subsequent year.


Winning over new customers, advertising sales. A difficult business which is often subject to monetary compensation.

Advertising effect

The extent to which the knowledge, reactions and behaviors of a target group are influenced and spurred by a method of advertising.

Advertising method

Intermediary that sends an advertising message from the sender (offeror) to the recipient.

Advertising support

A communication element or channel used to broadcast an advertisement. An advertising support could be media (TV, print, radio, web) or non-media (events, media/press, communications, display advertising).


Loss of value on assets, and in particular capital assets (machines, vehicles, etc.) A differentiation is made between the declining balance method (starting high but decreasing) and the straight-line method (which stays at the same level the entire time).

Articles of association

“Constitution” of a corporation or LLC which determines the purpose, registered office, capital allocation and the rights of the company bodies.


Assets such as cash, banking assets and investments.


The right-hand column of an account in the event of a double-entry system.


Current status of an account.

Balance sheet

Establishes all assets and liabilities (wealth and debts).

Balance sheet total

Total estimated assets in CHF. This total must correspond to the total liabilities.


Legal dissolution of a business due to its insolvency.


Responsible committees of a business (general meeting, board of directors, meeting of shareholders, management, etc.).


Person or business that owes something to someone (debtor).

Break-even point

When a return threshold has been reached.


Independent entrepreneur who assumes the responsibility of acting as an intermediary for other companies or to transact business in their own name.

B to B

Business–to-business. Commercial shares with partner companies, dealers, businesses, etc. Not intended for the end user.


Plan of expenses and revenues for the following year(s).

Business calculation

Calculation of sales and of the minimum prices at which the business is profitable.

Business plan

Operating plan. Provides information about the business, its objectives, revenue, markets and financing.


Money or property with pecuniary value.

Capital assets

Material and non-material assets belonging to the business (e.g. machines, real property, patents, etc.) that must be kept in the medium- and long-term.

Capitalization rate

Accepted rate at which the return should be profitable in the long-term. It is comprised of the rate for risk-free investments, in addition to a risk factor (for businesses and branches).

Capital tax

Cantonal tax on share capital or capital stock, as well as on hidden reserves.

Cash flow

Return net of taxes and amortization.

Code of Obligations (CO)

Set of laws concerning trade: obligations (commitments), contract law, commercial enterprises, trade register, securities.

Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

Contract between businesses and employee organizations (generally unions) which sets the minimum guaranteed benefits. May be declared as mandatory by the Swiss Federal Council.

Commercial company

Generic term for a general partnership, limited partnership, corporation or LLC.


Interest in the value of transactions negotiated or completed, generally expressed as a percentage.

Communication mix

Combination of communication policy instruments (traditional advertising, promotion of sales, personal sales, public relations).

Contribution in kind

Actual value (real property, vehicles, machines, etc.) as payment for capital stock.

Corporate governance

Internal regulations which guarantee the proper operation and controls as well as the independence of the various company bodies.

Corporation [Société anonyme (SA)]

Type of company. Association of people who have together contributed the capital (at least CHF 100,000), thereby forming a single legal entity. Liability is limited to the share capital. The partners have the right to remain anonymous.

Cost per thousand (CPT)

Or even price per thousand contacts; costs per 1,000 readers/contacts due to respective costs.


Person or business to whom something is owed.


Sales technique which consists of presenting supplementary items in close succession, in the hope that a customer interested in one item might be easily tempted by another.


Crowdfunding is a type of search for capital which consists of collecting small contributions from a large number of people

Current assets

Cash on hand or liquid assets that can be rapidly converted into cash (stock of merchandise, work commenced, etc.).

Daily indemnity

Indemnities paid by insurance in case of illness or unemployment (unemployment insurance).


The left-hand column of an account in the event of a double-entry system.

Declaration of insolvency

Declaration to the bankruptcy judge confirming incapacity to pay bills (application to open a bankruptcy proceeding).

Del credere

Assets subject to risks.

Diligent verification

Detailed evaluation (financial, legal, tax, technological, etc.) of candidate businesses within the scope of an acquisition operation, which forms the basis for the decision to buy.

Direct distribution

Special distribution policy of producers in which the trade (wholesale and retail) is eliminated and the end customer is directly called on by the sales force, through sale via correspondence, Internet or factory warehouse.

Direct marketing

Any form of individual and direct marketing communication between offerors and buyers.

Direct tax

Tax on capital and corporate revenue. In the majority of cantons, this is part of business expenses.


Reduction rewarding an early payment (generally 2%).


Sale. Making products or services available by various means.


Extension of the offer of products or services. A differentiation is made between the following: horizontal diversification (when the new product conforms to the current technique, experience and practice of the business); vertical diversification (when the business expands its current activity upstream or downstream); lateral diversification (when it features the entry of the business into a new sector of activity, for example the launch of a product on a market that has not yet been exploited).


Distribution of the profits of a corporation.

Double taxation

Taxation paid twice on a single financial service, especially dividends and profits of the business.


Commercial activity via the Internet, both between offeror and end consumer (Business-to-Consumer), and between manufacturer/wholesaler and commercial customer (Business-to-Business).

Employment contract

Individual contract between the employer and employee (as opposed to a collective bargaining agreement).


Assets of a business, less foreign funds.

Event marketing

Staging of specific events as part of business communications. The goal is to emotionally and physically entice the target group (associates, market partners, customers) by organizing events geared towards adventure, the company or the products.


Expenses for wages, rent, materials, maintenance, etc.


Outsourcing of the billing, with the del credere risk, to a bank or factor in exchange for a commission.

Federal law on bankruptcy and debt collection (LP or LBDC)

Federal law on bankruptcy and debt collection.


Fiduciary Person specialized in accounting and year-end closing.

Filing of balance sheet

When a company is over-indebted, it must file its balance sheet with the bankruptcy judge.

Financial promotion institutions

Cantonal institutions which assist businesses when they begin administrative procedures, at the time of their establishment, or to ease their financial burden.

Fiscal year

Accounting period of a business. Does not have to be identical to the calendar year. The first fiscal year may be longer or shorter than 12 months.


Right to exploit a brand and an experienced trade, limited in terms of time and also frequently in terms of region.

Free cash flow

Freely available funds. Free flow of funds (after taxes) from investments made (or planned) in fixed assets and changes in short-term net assets.

General partnership

Type of company. Association of private parties who are liable for all of their private assets.


Non-material fixed assets. The goodwill is the excess amount of the value or usefulness.

Guerilla marketing

Unconventional manner of acting that is somewhat counter to trends, used to strengthen public relations. Spontaneous communication policy with a small budget.


Reinvestment of profits in the business (rather than distributing them).

Income statement

Earnings and expenditure statement.

Income tax

Proportional or progressive tax on net profit.


Figures and ratios which provide information about a company's health.

Input tax

Value-added tax which the company paid to the supplier and may thus claim (deduction of input tax).


Inability to pay.

Intellectual property

Invention, trademark, design, geographical indication or literary or artistic work protected by intellectual property laws.

Internal financing

Financing using a company's own means.

Internal rate of return

Rate at which the business will be viable: bank rate plus (generally) 3% to 6% of the risk margin, plus 3% profit.


Statement of all provisions and investments.


Interest in the share capital entailing a risk.

Keyword targeting

Advertising space or links in search engines which, when a term is consulted, directly refer to certain websites.


Brand under which a company presents itself, alone or with its products.


Type of rental-sale of machines or vehicles. Contrary to individuals, businesses may indicate leasing expenses as charges.


Statement of all liabilities (debts) of a business.

Liability requirements

The members of the board of directors and all of the people concerned by the management or liquidation, as well as by the auditing of the annual financial statements, are liable towards the company and the shareholders and creditors for damage they cause by violating their obligations.


Authorization to use a patent, procedure or protected trademark.

Limited partnership

Type of company. Association of private parties, at least one of whom is fully liable (general partner). At least one limited partner is also needed, who is liable for up to a maximum set amount (share in limited partnership).

Liquid assets

Cash or cash equivalents that can be rapidly withdrawn.


Dissolution of a company.


Capacity of a business to honor its short-term commitments.


Limited liability company. Association of people who have together contributed the share capital (at least CHF 20,000, up to a maximum of CHF 2 million). Partners are liable for the amount of their stakes in the company. Their names are published in the trade register.


Money that is lent; generally a loan of a set amount.


Management of the purchase of equipment, deliveries and distribution.

Lombard loan

Loan on securities (primarily shares).


Excess expenses (revenue less expenses is negative).

Loss and gain allocation system

Compensation to people serving in the army, civil service or civil protection.

Loss of distribution

When advertising methods reach recipients that are not part of the target group.

Management buy-in (MBI)

Operation to buy back a business through a new management team.

Management buyout (MBO)

Operation to buy back a business through an existing management team.


Difference between the cost price and the sale price.

Margin on variable cost

Contribution of a product or service to fixed costs, after deducting variable costs.


All consumers that have the need, interest and power to buy a product or service, and who are ready to spend a portion of their income to do so.


All measures taken to promote sales. This includes the planning and putting into practice of concepts, the determination of prices and the communication and distribution of ideas, goods and services.

Market potential

Any person or business that enters a market as a buyer for a certain product or a certain service.

Market research

Research into all of the informational problems concerning the organization of a sale. This also involves research on the markets.

Market volume

Capacity of a certain market to accept a certain product or service.


Purchase, sale or merger of businesses.

Mixed media

Simultaneous or agreed upon intervention of several media, due to media planning, in the context of an advertising action.


Loan on a piece of real property (building, land).

Movable property

All movable property (office furniture, electronic installations, machines, vehicles, etc.).


Potential of a market segment that is not completely served by the current products.

Non-occupational accident (NOA)

Optional insurance in addition to accident insurance.

Non-voting share (NVS)

Instrument resembling a share. The NVS authorizes the collection of a dividend but does not provide voting rights.

Obligation to maintain accounting records

Obligation set by law for businesses to maintain an inventory, balance sheet and income statement (for corporations and limited liability companies, an annual report is also necessary). The documents must be kept for 10 years.

Old-age and survivors insurance (OSI)

Mandatory welfare insurance for employees and self-employed workers intended for old-age or death.

Organizational chart

Graphic representation of the hierarchies in a business.


Long-term outsourcing, or ‘contracting-out’, of a branch of the business or of certain roles within a unit.


General partnership or limited partnership. Partners are liable for the amount of their private assets.

Partnership agreement

Agreement between various parties who join with one another to form a company.


Registered protection for an invention or process.


Degree or number of recipients that received an advertising message compared to the number of possible contacts.

Pension fund

Mandatory precautionary principle by virtue of the Occupational Pensions Act (OPA), 2nd pillar. The majority of businesses adhere to a collective foundation. The largest companies may create their own joint foundation.


Point of Purchase or Point of Sale. Place of purchase viewed by the customer or place of sale of the offeror.

Post-sale marketing

Efforts made just after a sale to encourage the customer to make another purchase.

Prepaid expenses

Expenses relating to a subsequent year, but which have already been billed and paid.

Private consumption

Withdrawals that are not material for the business. In the case of individual reasons, private usage and commercial usage must be clearly separated.

Private equity

Equity provided to businesses not listed on the stock exchange.


Claim for payments not made by the intermediary to the prosecuting and bankruptcy authorities (directly to the registered office or domicile of the debtor).

Product mix

The set of all product lines from a certain offeror (producer or merchant). Each product mix is characterized by its span, depth and contents.


Excess revenue (revenue less expenses).


Beneficiary capacity of a business measured using sales or capital.

Promotion of sales

All communication measures aimed at promoting the demand of consumers and/or the efficacy of merchants.


Money that is set aside to cover any risks (guarantees, disputes, subsequent collection, etc.).

Public relations (PR)

All activities relating to independent promotion which should positively influence the relationship between the business and the public.

Purchase price

Price for which raw materials and trade merchandise could be independently obtained.


Evaluation of credit capacity carried out by a bank or rating agency.

Reaction (response rate)

Percentage of responses to an advertising program.

Real property

Real estate (buildings and land).

Receivables (customer accounts)

Assets relating to customers. They come from sales and services that are not paid immediately and in cash.


Updating of a product (design, packaging, advertising) that is already on the market.


Payment of share capital.


All profits (from production, banking assets, rental, etc.).

Risk capital

Resonance, reaction, number of responses, orders, coupons, etc. for an issue.

Risk management

Operating measures aimed at reducing risks and damage.


Gross profit from operations.


The scope indicates the number of people who are in contact with an advertising support. It is the main number of contacts and the basis for media planning.

Set costs

Costs triggered, independently of an interruption, at the time of production (for machines, rent, management, etc.).


Equity interest in the capital of a corporation [société anonyme (SA)]. In the case of registered shares, the name of the owner of the SA is known. In the case of bearer shares, said owner remains anonymous.

Share capital

Share capital of a limited liability company [SARL].

Shareholders’ agreement

Agreement between shareholders which regulates voting rights (above all for transfers of shares, situations of corporate failure or orders from management bodies).

Share with privileged voting rights

Share with a low par value intended to ensure its own influence. These shares must be fully paid-up.

Simple partnership

Simple form of a partnership. Communal interest generally aimed at accomplishing a project.


Small and medium-sized enterprise.

Social benefits

Mandatory welfare benefits such as OSI, AI, allocations for loss of profit (ALP) as well as other personal welfare benefits, which are in part optional.

Social welfare institution

Pension fund by virtue of the Occupational Pensions Act (OPA).

Sole proprietorship

Company that is owned by an individual business owner. Such party is liable towards their company for the amount of their entire personal wealth.


Capacity and intent to pay of the debtor.


A section of a company that has become independent due to a new management (generally the former management of that section).


A portion of the integrated communications of a business, used nowadays mainly in sports, and cultural and social affairs. A sponsor provides financial or material means, as well as know-how, in the hope of obtaining valuable consideration from the sponsored party.

Stake in the profits

Shares of the annual income, distributed according to a set key. Basis: the majority of the time, the effective net income.

Stay of bankruptcy

Verification phase during which an insolvent company may, with the help of a court-appointed administrator, prove that it can survive in the long term.

Strategic marketing

Contrary to operational marketing, this marks a long-term, comprehensive marketing concept, which contains the business and marketing objectives.

Surety bond

Guarantee of a third party's financial obligations.

Swiss Civil Code (CC)

Set of laws concerning the law of persons (individuals and legal entities), family law, inheritance law and real property law.

Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund [Caisse nationale suisse d'assurance en cas d'accident (Suva)]

Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund in Lucerne (SNAIF).

Target group

Market segment at which a product or service is directly aimed.

Tax withheld at source

Taxes for foreign employees which the employer must collect and directly repay.

Technology parks

Businesses, often newly formed, which benefit from one another, under the same roof.

Telemarketing (or telephone marketing)

Systematic use of the phone to make direct contact with a target group (sales, questionnaires, fixing of deadlines, etc.).

Test market

Limited partial market in the region on which tests are conducted.

Trade register

Public register containing the main information on commercial enterprises (name, year of formation, registered office, purpose, director, partners, members of the board of directors, authorized signatories, capital position, audit body).

Trial period

Trial period during which an employer and employee can determine whether they have made the right decision. According to the CO, this period lasts 1 month; under the employment contract, it is, at most, 3 months. During this trial period, either party may withdraw at any time, within a period of seven days.

Unemployment insurance (UI)

Mandatory welfare insurance in the event of a period of unemployment.

Unique selling proposition (USP)

Scope of a strategic marketing objective. By individualization and a profiling strategy, there is an effort to obtain a product, a type of operation or an image that cannot be confused.

Value-added tax (VAT)

Consumer tax issued by the Confederation on the internal return and on imported merchandise or services.

Variable costs

Costs which depend on the number of goods or services produced (for personnel, equipment, energy, etc.).

Venture capital

Risk capital.

Wage supplements

Wage supplements such as a company car or free subscription which are not paid for in cash.

Welfare in favour of personnel

Optional legal benefit for personnel (pension fund, daily indemnity insurance, etc.).


Non-cash payment system based on a closed currency circuit in which the businesses concerned may conduct business with one another. Payment occurs by WIR check. The WIR bank uses a clearing body.

Withholding tax

Tax on the interests that the bank directly transmits to the tax authority. When the return is correct, the withholding tax may be refunded.

Work commenced

Work on a project that extends beyond the end of the current year and that has not yet been billed.

Last modification 28.08.2018

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