"Low and negative interest rates are not the only challenges facing financial providers. The whole sector is confronting an unstable global economy, restrictive regulatory requirements, rapid technological advances and, last but not least, changing customer behaviour. All of which made it anything but certain that we would be able to continue gaining momentum this past year, and enjoy profitable growth," says Patrick Frost, CEO of the Swiss Life Group. "The pleasing results are an expression of the great work done by our employees in recent years, and provide an excellent basis for the Swiss Life Group to develop further."
Earning power increases in all units – sustainable business model
In 2015 the Swiss Life Group once again grew its earnings power. Net profit rose from CHF 818 million to CHF 878 million (plus 7%). Adjusted operating income was CHF 1.3 billion, up 17%. All units contributed to this positive development. The savings result rose by 18% to CHF 773 million; the risk result by 4% to CHF 395 million; and the fee result increased by 36% to CHF 342 million.
Despite continuing low interest rates and the negative currency effect, Swiss Life generated direct investment income of CHF 4.3 billion in 2015 (2014: CHF 4.5 billion). The net investment result improved from CHF 5.1 billion to CHF 5.2 billion, producing a net investment return of 3.7% (2014: 3.8%). Patrick Frost notes: "Once again we have been able to achieve attractive investment returns, which is of considerable value to our customers in view of the continuing low interest rate environment and volatile financial markets. The robust investment return allowed us in 2015 to again strengthen the insurance reserves by CHF 1.2 billion, and thus improve the sustainability of our business model."
Swiss Life Switzerland increased its segment result by 10% to CHF 734 million. The main driver was the savings result of CHF 499 million (plus 19%). The risk result remained stable at a good level (CHF 267 million) and the fee result was slightly negative due to investments in growth initiatives (minus CHF 4 million). In France Swiss Life saw the segment result enhanced by 20% to EUR 219 million. In addition to the savings result of EUR 163 million (plus 12%), the risk result of EUR 82 million (plus 18%) and the fee result of EUR 43 million (plus 38%) also contributed to this increase. Germany posted a segment result of EUR 121 million, up 51% over 2014. The earnings comprise: The savings result of EUR 86 million (plus 33%), the fee result of EUR 37 million (plus 159%) and the risk result of EUR 26 million (plus 8%). Swiss Life International improved its segment result of EUR 30 million to EUR 38 million (plus 26%). The main driver was the fee result of EUR 29 million (plus 61%). An equally pleasing increase in the segment result was achieved by Swiss Life Asset Managers with 28% growth to CHF 242 million.
Swiss Life thus continued its profitable growth in 2015, with premium income up by 5% year-on-year in local currency to CHF 18.9 billion. In Swiss francs, this corresponds to a fall of 1%. The Group saw its fee business and commission income up 8% in local currency to CHF 1.3 billion (in CHF minus 1%).
In the home market of Switzerland, premium volume rose by 5% to CHF 10.5 billion. In group life business Swiss Life saw a 6% increase in premiums to CHF 8.9 billion, while the market grew by only 1%. In individual life business, premiums of CHF 1.6 billion were at previous year's level (minus 1%) while outperforming the market (minus 2%). In addition, Swiss Life Switzerland successfully pursued its full-range provider strategy for corporate clients, growing the share of new business, alongside full insurance, with semi-autonomous insurance solutions to 11% (2014: 4 %).
In France Swiss Life grew premiums by 2% to CHF 4.2 billion. The quality of new life insurance business once again saw a pleasing development, with the proportion of unit-linked solutions increasing to 60%. The focus on profitable business led in Germany to a 2% decline in premiums to EUR 1.3 billion: The planned reduction of traditional business was largely offset by the increase in the share of modern savings products as well as disability and long-term care insurance solutions. Swiss Life International posted premium growth of 14% to EUR 2.3 billion.
As at 31 December 2015, Swiss Life Asset Managers had a total of CHF 185 billion under management (plus 1%), including CHF 39 billion in real estate. Swiss Life also administers CHF 28.6 billion in real estate for third parties, which makes Swiss Life, with its CHF 67.6 billion in real estate under management and administration, one of Europe's leading real estate asset managers. In its third-party investment business, Swiss Life Asset Managers posted net new assets of CHF 7.2 billion. The company thus had CHF 38.8 billion in assets under management for third parties by the end of 2015.
Improved efficiency – solid solvency
Efficiency ratios improved Group-wide by 2 basis points to 0.60%. Despite low interest rates, the new business margin was maintained at 1.7% (2014: 1.8%), above the ambition of 1.5%. The value of new business rose from CHF 255 million in 2014 to CHF 268 million (plus 5%). Swiss Life generated an adjusted return on equity of 9.7% in 2015 (2014: 9.6%), and thus once again attained the upper end of its target band of 8 to 10%. Shareholders' equity amounted to CHF 12.2 billion (minus 5%, particularly due to lower unrealised gains on bonds and negative currency translation effects). Swiss Life expects its SST ratio to be around 140% as of 1 January 2016 (based on the internal model approved with conditions).
Increase in dividend to CHF 8.50 per share
At the Annual General Meeting on 26 April 2016, the Board of Directors will propose to shareholders an increase in the dividend to CHF 8.50 per share (2014: CHF 6.50) paid in the form of a withholding tax-free distribution from the capital contribution reserves. All Members of the Board of Directors are standing for re-election.
Telephone conference for investors and analysts
Patrick Frost, Group CEO, and Thomas Buess, Group CFO, will hold a telephone conference in English for financial analysts and investors today at 9 a.m. (CET).
Europe: +41 (0) 58 310 50 00
UK: +44 (0) 203 059 58 62
USA: +1 (1) 631 570 56 13
Telephone conference for media representatives
Patrick Frost, Group CEO, and Thomas Buess, Group CFO, will hold a telephone conference in German for media representatives today at 11 a.m. (CET).
Europe: +41 (0) 58 310 50 00
An audio webcast of both conferences will be made available on the www.swisslife.com website. Please dial in ten minutes before the start of the conference.
Phone +41 43 284 77 77
Phone +41 43 284 52 76
All our media releases can be found at swisslife.com/mediareleases
The Swiss Life Group is one of Europe's leading comprehensive life and pensions and financial solutions providers. In its core markets of Switzerland, France and Germany, Swiss Life offers individuals and corporations comprehensive and individual advice plus a broad range of own and partner products through its sales force and distribution partners such as brokers and banks.
Swiss Life Select, Tecis, Horbach, Deutsche Proventus and Chase de Vere advisors choose suitable products for customers from the market according to the Best Select approach. Swiss Life Asset Managers offers institutional and private investors access to investment and asset management solutions. Swiss Life provides multinational corporations with employee benefits solutions and high net worth individuals with structured life and pensions products.
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 two subsidiaries Livit and Corpus Sireo are also part of the Swiss Life Group. The Group employs a workforce of around 7600 and approximately 4500 certified financial advisors.
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, by their nature, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors. These may result in a substantial divergence between the actual results, developments and expectations of Swiss Life and those explicitly or implicitly described in these forward-looking statements. Given these uncertainties, the reader is reminded that these statements are merely projections and should not be overvalued. Neither SwissLife nor its Members of the Board of Directors, executive managers, managers, employees or external advisors nor any other person associated with Swiss Life or with any other relationship to the company makes any express or implied representation or warranty as to the correctness or completeness of the information contained in this publication. SwissLife and the abovementioned persons shall not be liable under any circumstances for any direct or indirect loss resulting from the use of this information. Furthermore, Swiss Life undertakes no obligation to publicly update or change any of these forward-looking statements, or to adjust them to reflect new information, future events, developments or similar.