Diligent business conduct in compliance with the law is a given for Swiss Life. The basis for this is provided by the values set out in the Code of Conduct, diligent and forward-looking risk management and a regular inventory of customer requirements.
Swiss Life has potential for profitable growth in all markets. Its divisions are managed in accordance with a multi-local approach; a significant portion of the decision-making power is with the local divisions. This ensures that decisions can be made close to the market and with commensurate effect. Customer needs form the basis for local guidance. Only those who can win over existing customers and the new generation with relevant offers and services will be among the winners in decades to come. Swiss Life is closely oriented to customer needs and invests in consulting, digitalisation and organic growth. With these measures, Swiss Life aims to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty along with the recommendation rate, and thus further expand the groundwork for future economic success.
Customer centricity is a strategic thrust of Swiss Life. The company has launched various initiatives in recent years with an eye to further strengthening Swiss Life’s customer centricity. These initiatives are centrally coordinated and meticulously analysed and assessed.External perspective: Direct customer feedback
Swiss Life collaborates with an independent market research institute to carry out continuous assessments of customer feedback at the key contact points. This involves asking customers from various segments about their experience, their satisfaction and their willingness to recommend Swiss Life directly following contact with the company. Dissatisfied customers, or those less willing to recommend, are contacted within 48 hours by Swiss Life, provided they have agreed to such contact. The reason for getting in touch with the customer is to understand precisely the reasons for the negative assessment and to offer an appropriate solution.
On the basis of this information Swiss Life has built special processes and services, and created committees tasked with the regular analysis of customer opinion and the conveyance of their findings to the company. Recent months have thus seen a wide and varied range of measures implemented to help Swiss Life further improve its customer value.
In Switzerland customer service training courses were offered by leading providers from other sectors (aviation, hospitality) to allow employees to learn and adopt new and best-practice service approaches. The success of this measure is shown by increased customer satisfaction with the Corporate Clients Service Center, as well as the rise in the net promoter score (NPS).
In addition to direct feedback, Swiss Life has established a host of local instruments to assess customer satisfaction and responsiveness to customer needs, such as with its own customer panels.
In Switzerland and France digital platforms and services have been introduced to provide customers with round-the-clock access to contract information and other data, and to channel inquiries more effectively.
In Germany written customer communication has been rethought to make it clearer and better structured. The number of inquiries to customer service has thus been reduced by some 30% over the previous year.
In the United Kingdom the ratio of customers to advisors has been significantly reduced to ensure more intensive consulting and improved accessibility.Internal perspective: Employees’ Customer Centricity Index
As a counterpoint to the external perspective, Swiss Life surveys all of its employees once a year on their perception of progress in customer centricity. The survey results are compiled in an internal index. The feedback received in 2015 shows the success of the measures taken. The Swiss Life Employees’ Customer Centricity Index (ECCI) thus increased in 2015 by three points over 2014, to post a value of 81, significantly above the target value of 75 points. The survey is conducted together with an independent market research institute.
Last year saw various internal initiatives undertaken Group-wide to increase customer centricity.
In late 2015 a company-wide campaign entitled “100 employees visit 100 customers” was successfully concluded. Over the past two years, Swiss Life allowed 100 employees who have no direct customer contact in their daily work to spend a day with a customer and get a glimpse into his or her life. The reports published on all the visits meant that all employees could follow the campaign. Furthermore, following each visit a meeting room was named after the customer and adorned with his or her portrait. The aim of this campaign was to anchor customers’ lives in the company, and to render customer centricity palpable. A customer
In France an obligatory electronic training programme was instituted for every employee with five golden rules for a customer-centric organisation.
In Germany employees are able to experience customer feedback in real time on a centrallypositioned screen and thus watch as customer needs are met in consulting and customer service.
All initiatives support Swiss Life in its quest to become a customer-oriented organisation and ensure its customers will remain at the heart of its business going forward.
Products and services
Swiss Life has longstanding experience in developing innovative and customer-oriented products in its life insurance and pensions business. Its customers and their needs are always the focus of all Swiss Life’s activities. The Swiss Life product strategy thus combines optimal customer value with profitability for the company. Regulators’ demands, regarding such things as solvency, as well as external factors like the economic and interest rate environment or demographic trends, must also be considered. Optimising and constantly developing the existing range of offerings so as to take into account all target groups, such as customers, investors, shareholders and supervisory authorities, is crucial in this endeavour.
The company offers private and corporate clients comprehensive and individual advice plus a broad range of own and partner products through its own agents, financial advisors and distribution partners. Swiss Life Select, the subsidiary specialising in financial planning for private households and brokering financial products, as well as the advisors of Tecis, Horbach, Deutsche Proventus and Chase de Vere, also part of the Group, use the Best Select approach to choose suitable products for customers from the market.Transparent product information
Swiss Life sets great store by transparent and accessible information about product and service offerings. Swiss Life supports customer-oriented advice by providing clear and comprehensive documentation. Swiss Life holistically promotes the comprehensibility and transparency of its products and services. Thus there are supporting video sequences on the various insurance and provisions topics available on the local internet pages, along with publications for download.
Long-term benefit commitments and obligations arising from pension and financial products demand a precise preliminary analysis of the legal and regulatory environment, and the associated risk. This also provides the basis for customer-oriented consulting and is a major factor in the avoidance of mistakes or violations in advising, and their possible consequences.
The practical design of products and services is guided by Group-wide standards and is in strict accordance with the local regulatory environment and legislation. The ability of Compliance to make adjustments even to existing products and services is guaranteed. Group-wide standards for the development of products and services are also adapted to framework conditions as required.
Swiss Life uses a variety of directives at Group level to regulate product management and has established a uniform, auditable product development process. This process defines the minimum requirements of local product development as well as the approval and escalation process for initiatives at Group level. The observance of laws and provisions, practical customer value and the quality of customer documentation are naturally essential criteria in the assessment process.
Group-wide compulsory regulations are implemented locally in the relevant directives. Swiss Life regularly reviews its product solutions and provides information on innovations and products with added customer value in its Annual Report.
Compliance within Swiss Life
Swiss Life sets great store by compliance with all applicable legal provisions and regulatory stipulations in all its activities. In addition to the Code of Conduct there is also a comprehensive directives system which defines minimum standards mandatory Group-wide, and implemented in all business units in corresponding local regulations. In this directives system, Swiss Life sets out, for example, the duties, responsibilities and competencies of Compliance.
Compliance focuses in particular on the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the observance of sanctions and embargoes, data confidentiality, conformity with data protection, avoidance of conflicts of interest, preventing insider trading and market manipulation and monitoring and assessing the legal and regulatory environment. It ensures that employees receive ongoing training in topics relevant to compliance.
By means of precise investigations in accordance with the local regulatory environment and local legislation, Compliance supports employees and management in their work with an eye to avoiding infringements of legal and regulatory stipulations. Regular risk assessments as well as permanent and comprehensive compliance reporting to the top echelons provide support for the implementation of all requisite measures at Group level as well as within the business units.
The compliance framework is subject to periodic review and is reworked and adapted to new prerequisites as necessary.
The year under review saw Swiss Life subject to no monetary penalties or fines, and the company did not make any settlements in connection with corruption charges.
A further pillar of Swiss Life’s responsible, sustainable business is its integrated, value-oriented risk management involving both quantitative and qualitative elements. The goal is to protect customers’ funds and ensure the best possible investment of risk capital, while complying with regulatory requirements and taking into account persistently challenging economic conditions.
Risk management is a key component of Swiss Life’s management process. The respective committees of the Corporate Executive Board and the Board of Directors continually monitor and take decisions in the area of risk management; these are then incorporated into the annual planning process. On the one hand, they comprise qualitative assessments from a strategic perspective, taking into consideration operational risks and the internal control system (ICS). On the other hand, quantitative elements for each insurance unit, such as risk budgeting and investment strategy, are included in Asset Liability Management. Based on overall risk capacity and risk appetite and taking account of regulatory provisions, limits are set in the individual units for the financial risks incurred, according to which the investment targets are set. The qualitative risk management elements mentioned above are presented and discussed below. Detailed information on the risk budgeting process and asset and liability management is provided in Note 5 (Risk Management Policies and Procedures) of the “Consolidated Financial Statements”.Strategic risk management
Swiss Life uses analytical methods to ensure that strategic risks are dealt with adequately in what continues to be a very challenging economic environment. In its strategic risk management process, Swiss Life incorporates all the information on risks and the risk/return characteristics in its strategic decisions. An understanding of the interplay of individual risks is essential in order to take due account of the factors influencing risks during strategy development so that these factors can be steered appropriately.Operational risk management and internal control system
Operational risk management (ORM) at Swiss Life includes the methods and processes used for the identification, assessment and steering or avoidance of operational risks. ORM defines operational risk as the danger that losses may result from shortcomings or failures in internal processes, people or systems, or from external events. Swiss Life’s internal control system consists of the entirety of procedures, methods and measures prescribed by the Board of Directors and the Corporate Executive Board to ensure the orderly conduct of business. The focus is on the reliability of financial reporting, the effectiveness of business processes and compliance with laws and regulations issued to protect the company’s assets.Capital management Swiss Solvency Test
The Swiss Solvency Test (SST) sets out the capital requirements valid for insurance companies and groups in Switzerland. It was enacted in 2006 with the revised Insurance Supervision Law and corresponding Insurance Supervision Ordinance and constituted a reporting requirement during a five-year transition period before it ultimately became binding on 1 January 2011. The SST is a principles-based framework where the main objective is the alignment of the required capital with the underlying risks. The SST capital requirements are based on the understanding that insurers will meet their obligations towards policyholders even under difficult conditions. Swiss Life uses an internal model to calculate the available and required capital for the SST. Based on this internal model, which has been partially or conditionally approved by FINMA, Swiss Life meets the capital requirements.Economic capital
The value of a life insurance company for its shareholders comprises the economic net worth and the present value of future profits. The optimal amount of economic capital an insurance company needs to hold in order to maximise the company value is based on a risk/return trade-off. For risk and capital management decisions, Swiss Life uses an integrated approach. The economic risk capital is determined bottom-up for each large business unit and takes into account market risks, credit risks and insurance risks. These risks are calculated on the basis of loss distributions using a specified risk measure. The overall capital requirements are obtained by taking into consideration respective diversification effects.
Continuous monitoring of solvency under the SST is conducted on a monthly basis; calibration is effected based on the full SST calculations as at the beginning of each calendar year and as at mid-year.
Economic and statutory capital requirements and the profit target are the main elements determining the risk budgets. Based on the overall risk budget set by the Investment and Risk Committee of the Board of Directors, the Group Risk Committee of the Corporate Executive Board defines the risk limits for the business areas. Adherence to these limits is also checked on a monthly basis.Standard & Poor’s rating capital
In the Standard & Poor’s risk-based model, the total adjusted capital (TAC) is the measure used for available capital. TAC is set against the capital required given the company’s target rating category (target capital). The calculation of target capital takes into account, in particular, insurance risks, asset value volatility and credit risks.
Swiss Life has established a target capital level in line with its rating ambition. Within the capital analysis, in addition to assessing capital adequacy, Standard & Poor’s assesses the quality of capital with respect to its structure (including the share of equity and hybrid capital). Capital adequacy is monitored on an ongoing basis according to the Standard & Poor’s model.
Following the rating upgrade to “A–” in May of 2012 and the raising of the outlook from “stable” to “positive” in May 2014, Standard & Poor’s once again recognised Swiss Life’s operational progress and increased its rating to “A with stable outlook” in May 2015
Swiss Life manages assets for its own insurance companies and for institutional investors as clients (such as pension funds, fund management companies, other insurance companies etc.), whereby it complies with the stipulations of the supervisory authorities as an insurance company and asset manager. Furthermore, Swiss Life relies on the aforementioned integrated, value-oriented risk management with an eye to protecting customer assets and optimally deploying risk capital.
As a manager of insurance companies’ and institutional investors’ assets, Swiss Life represents clients’ interests. The company is aware of its duty to policyholders and customers and acts responsibly in its asset allocation and when exercising voting rights.
Moreover, Swiss Life undertakes to observe ethical principles, besides acting in accordance with the law, when taking investment decisions.
Swiss Life ensures that its procurement is in compliance with all applicable legislation. When selecting suppliers and partners, Swiss Life bases its decisions on ethical and ecological principles and works with local suppliers wherever possible.