Bruno Pfister was appointed Group Chief Executive Officer in May 2008. We took this opportunity to ask him about his views on and expectations of his new position.
Congratulations on your appointment as Group CEO of Swiss Life. From your CV we gather that the international finance and insurance business has been part of your professional life from the early days of your career. Does this mean that you are internationally focused?
Yes indeed. My focus is and has always been a very international one.

What will your new role at Swiss Life be?
Together with my colleagues in the Corporate Executive Board, I will be responsible for the implementation of the corporate strategy that we have developed over the last few months: We want to become the leading specialist of life insurance and pensions solutions. This ultimately means that we have to ensure that Swiss Life reaches its business and financial targets.

Quite a huge challenge. Is this why you wanted to become Group CEO?
Well, first and foremost, I enjoy working for Swiss Life and am delighted to assume this responsible role. Swiss Life is an organisation with a bright future. I am convinced that the life insurance and pension business is an attractive business field offering many opportunities. The demographic trends pose a major challenge to state pension systems. We want to benefit from this situation. People and their needs are the focus of our business. As expressed in our mission statement “We are committed to helping people create a financially secure future. For life.” As Group CEO I will have the opportunity to meet many different people from all over the world, for instance, employees, customers, shareholders and officials. This is one of the interesting aspects of my job.

Coming back to the issue of strategy implementation, what do you hope to accomplish as Group CEO of Swiss Life?
First of all I think we are already on the right path. We are now well positioned for the next growth surge. However, we must concentrate even more on our strengths in the years ahead. We will focus on growth opportunities in our existing markets, in international business and in attractive growth markets and are establishing a functional management structure to further enhance efficiency and cooperation within the Group. And, last but not least, we have set ourselves ambitious financial goals to underscore the company’s commitment to profitable growth and the efficient use of capital.

With regard to the employee benefits industry: what do you see as the major challenges?
Given the demographic evolution worldwide and the difficult financial situation of most state pension systems, more and more responsibility for risk cover and retirement and pension systems will be shifted from the states to employers and individuals. This creates a huge potential for employee benefits solutions and for providers such as Swiss Life. On the other hand, large corporates and multinational companies face a constantly evolving legal environment, more demanding employees and the need to create cost-efficient solutions.

What are your expectations regarding the international group life business and in particular the Swiss Life Network?
International pensions leadership is a key objective for us, and our customer segment of large corporations and multinationals plays an important role in achieving this goal. Therefore, I expect our new Corporate Solutions unit to monitor the industry trends, practices and opportunities for employee benefit plans worldwide and to translate its findings into solutions to meet the diverse employee benefit needs of our clients today and in the future. Swiss Life will also closely monitor new opportunities arising in Europe from the EU Pension Fund Directive and also work out cross-border strategies to develop solutions for specific target groups such as third-country nationals and expatriates. We are determined to capture a significant part of the employee benefits market.

Thanks to its wealth of experience in the area of international employee benefit plans and its extensive global presence through its Network Partners, the Swiss Life Network is already a leading player in the global employee benefits market and is expected to further extend this position in the future.

Are you satisfied with the performance of the Swiss Life Network?
Very much so. As a pioneer in pooling solutions, the Swiss Life Network has evolved into a global employee benefits network and established a sound reputation as a quality employee benefits provider on a global level. The Swiss Life Network has also substantially contributed to the increase in Swiss Life’s brand awareness in Asia, North America and Latin America. For instance, our new partnership with New Life in Turkey was very well received by the media and the co-operation has already proven successful. Furthermore, I believe the Swiss Life Network is very much “in the market” in a very competitive environment and has started to develop new solutions at the right time.

Looking ahead, what do you think the future holds for employee benefits?

Key issues for the future are the dynamics of the aging workforce, shifting workplace demographics and the effects of the predicted labour shortage. Furthermore, we are no longer in a “one-size-fits-all” benefits world, and there is an increased need for global employee benefit plans. Education and awareness about employee benefits will increase and, with it, the demand for more sophisticated solutions, including lifecycle and more individualised solutions. We will need to think ahead in terms of benefit strategies, to design specific plans for specific employer and employee groups and to further develop overall workable, sustainable and suitable benefit solutions that meet the requirements of our clients. I am convinced that the future will be very competitive for employee benefit providers, and that Swiss Life, and in particular the Swiss Life Network, will actively shape this future.

Thank you for sharing your views. We wish you all the best in your new role as Group CEO!