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Swiss Life sets course for profitable growth and boosts competitiveness with a far-reaching programme

15.12.2009

Swiss Life is presenting the MILESTONE programme at its Investors’ Day today. By 2012, Swiss Life aims to generate a return on equity of 10-12%, with over 70% of its new business in non-traditional and risk products, and to double the new business margin to over 2%. Distribution is also to be further strengthened through independent distribution channels. As regards AWD, Swiss Life is aiming for a distribution share of 20-25% of Swiss Life products in relevant product categories. By 2012, Swiss Life expects a dividend payout ratio of 20-40% of the reported profit. At the centre of the MILESTONE programme aimed at sustainably boosting the Group’s profitability and competitiveness are five main thrusts: - consistent focus on life and pensions products with variable guarantees and pure risk products in order to enhance customer value and boost profitability - ambitious use and increase of distribution power - ongoing improvements in operational efficiency and sustainable reduction in costs - reduction in earnings volatility and strengthening of the balance sheet - disciplined execution of plans and objectives

Bruno Pfister, Group CEO, comments: “The MILESTONE programme, which has been launched throughout the Group, enables us to take advantage of the opportunities opening up for us in the international life and pensions market. We are doing this from a position of strength, having successfully emerged from the financial crisis. Swiss Life has a solid capital base, is growing in its key markets and has continued to substantially reduce costs in recent months. With the measures presented today, we will ensure that the Group grows profitably, despite the increasingly tough competitive climate.”

MILESTONE strengthens Swiss Life in all key areas of value creation
With MILESTONE, Swiss Life is setting five thrusts which fundamentally influence the key areas of value creation.

1. By consistently focusing on pension products with variable guarantees and on risk products, Swiss Life aims, in particular, to enhance customer value by providing greater flexibility and improved margins. At the same time, the Group is also reducing its capital requirements in new business. It is gearing its priorities towards profitable growth . Swiss Life wants to double the new business margin to over 2% by 2012. In the words of Bruno Pfister: “We want to grow, but not at the expense of profitability.”

2. Swiss Life is pursuing a multi-channel strategy in distribution which has proven its worth. The Group would like to build on this solid foundation in all units to further increase quality and productivity in distribution . Swiss Life is therefore focusing on independent distribution channels such as banks and brokers, in addition to its proprietary distribution network. By 2012, the Group would also like to increase to 20-25% the share of Swiss Life products distributed through AWD by introducing new, competitive products in all relevant product categories, by launching further product offensives and by improved services. At the same time, Swiss Life will safeguard independent product selection by AWD advisors. Bruno Pfister comments: “AWD plays a key role in our efforts to further increase our distribution power and opens up new customer segments and markets to Swiss Life.”

3. The cost savings of CHF 350-400 million vis-à-vis 2008, which were announced in the context of the half-year results 2009, have already led to a substantial improvement in the cost base ; around 50% of the cost-cutting measures have already been implemented. In addition to the savings announced in August 2009 in Switzerland and at AWD, Swiss Life in Germany will eliminate the negative administrative cost result of EUR 25 million. Swiss Life in France is currently working on an efficiency boosting programme to support the growth strategy. The cost savings figure for the Swiss Life Group also includes overall restructuring costs of CHF 140-180 million; 80%-90% of the restructuring costs will already be shown on the books by the end of 2009. Thomas Buess, Group CFO, comments: “The new cost base greatly increases our competitiveness and enables us to gear our business towards non-traditional life and pension products.”


4. A further objective of MILESTONE is to reduce earnings volatility, while strengthening the balance sheet . On the one hand, Swiss Life is increasing the profitability of its in-force business . On the other hand, the company is continuing to work towards generating stable, sustainable investment income .In the words of Bruno Pfister: “We want to organically grow our equity in order to move closer to our goal of regaining an A rating and to finance our growth plans ourselves. We are therefore also strengthening our balance sheet by adjusting our dividend policy. By 2012, we want to have a dividend payout ratio of 20-40%.”

5. Swiss Life is strengthening its internal controlling and strictly aligning it to the MILESTONE objectives. The Group is also developing a new set of KPIs with which the company can be even more appropriately measured. “MILESTONE’s success depends on how disciplined we are in implementing the initiatives to achieve our goals. The responsibility for disciplined execution rests in particular with those of us in the management team,” comments Thomas Buess.

Further progress in implementing the strategy
Since publication of the interim statement last November, Swiss Life has made further progress in implementing its corporate strategy.

- By implementing a comprehensive set of measures, AWD has now set the course for sustainable and profitable growth and aims to generate a pre-tax profit of EUR 80-100 million in 2012.

- As part of the reorganisation in Eastern Europe , AWD is focusing on its rapidly expanding core markets and is thus withdrawing from Croatia and Romania. In future, the company wants to concentrate on markets with above-average growth potential.

- The plans for Swiss Life to enter the Austrian market are at an advanced stage. The official market entry will take place in the first quarter of 2010.

In the words of Bruno Pfister: “Swiss Life has all it takes to play a leading role in the international life and pensions business: an excellent workforce, growth prospects and efficient distribution channels in life and pensions. In addition, we have two strong brands, a strategy which has withstood the financial crisis and proved its worth, and customers who believe in us. With MILESTONE, Swiss Life is translating this potential into measurable results.”
Swiss Life
The Swiss Life Group is one of Europe's leading providers of life insurance and pension solutions. In Switzerland, France and Germany, the Group offers individuals and corporations comprehensive advice and a broad range of products through its own sales force as well as brokers and banks. Swiss Life provides international corporations with employee benefits solutions from a single source, and is one of the global leaders in structured life and pension products for international high net worth individuals.

The AWD Group has been part of the Swiss Life Group since 2008. Hanover-based AWD is one of the leading European financial services providers in the medium- and high-income client segments and offers its clients personal and holistic financial planning in ten countries.

Swiss Life Holding Ltd, registered in Zurich, was founded in 1857 as Schweizerische Rentenanstalt. The shares of Swiss Life Holding Ltd are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (SLHN). The Swiss Life Group employs a staff of around 9000.
Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking information
This publication contains specific forward-looking statements, e.g. statements including terms like “believe”, “assume”, “expect” or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors which may result in a substantial divergence between the actual results, financial situation, development, performance or expectations of Swiss Life and those explicitly or implicitly presumed in these statements. Against the background of these uncertainties, readers are cautioned that these statements are only projections and that no undue reliance should be placed on such forward-looking statements. Neither Swiss Life nor any of its directors, officers, employees or advisors nor any other person connected or otherwise associated with Swiss Life makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication. Neither Swiss Life nor any of the aforementioned persons shall have any liability whatsoever for loss howsoever arising, directly or indirectly, from any use of this information. Furthermore, Swiss Life assumes no responsibility to publicly update or alter its forward-looking statements or to adapt them, whether as a result of new information, future events or developments or any other reason.
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