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Politics & collaboration with associations

Swiss Life’s operational environment is heavily influenced by political and regulatory decisions. For example, legal principles and their practical application in the form of ordinances have a direct effect on product design, processes and the manner of reporting to shareholders, supervisory authorities and the public.

That is why Swiss Life needs to know what topics are being discussed in political circles, so it can better understand the opinions, expectations and perceptions of political groups. It is also important to gauge how the enactment or amendment of legal principles could affect Swiss Life’s business. Swiss Life is committed to promoting a competitive business location and appropriate regulation density in all its core markets.

The company is also in direct contact with representatives of political committees and organisations as well as supervisory authorities on a number of levels. Political work and cooperation are closely coordinated with business associations in all the core markets. Moreover, a number of company executives are members of various national business associations: For example, Patrick Frost, Group CEO of Swiss Life, is on the Board of the economic umbrella organisation economiesuisse, while Ivo Furrer, CEO of Swiss Life Switzerland, is on the Managing Board of the Swiss Insurance Association (SIA) where he is also Chairman of the Board Committee.

Swiss Life also fosters relationships with politicians and industry groupings in France and
Germany as part of its socio-political responsibility. Swiss Life Germany is represented on all the major committees of the German Insurance Association (GDV) and maintains regular contact with the Bundesverband der Verischerungskaufleute (BVK, a German association for self-employed insurance brokers) and the Verband unabhängiger Finanzdienstleistungs-Unternehmen in Europa (Votum, an association representing the interests of financial service providers operating throughout Europe).

Charles Relecom, CEO of Swiss Life France, is a member of the Board of Directors of the French Insurance Association (FFSA); Nils Frowein, CEO of Swiss Life International, sits on the Board of the German Chamber of Commerce; and there are also other examples of Swiss Life representatives being members of committees relevant to the company’s business.

Furthermore, Swiss Life cultivates direct contact with members of parliament at a regional and national level. In its dealings with politicians it is guided by the rules of the Swiss Life Group Code of Conduct, as specified in the internal directive “Code of Conduct”. These rules decree, for example, that donations in the home market of Switzerland to political parties are to be free of any obligation.

In Switzerland, parties of the political centre-right and individual politicians receive financial support mainly for their election campaigns. The total amount of support provided during the year under review was CHF 400 000. No donations are provided in Germany or France.

Swiss Life is committed to the militia principle in Switzerland and it encourages its employees to exercise public and political mandates. As a company operating in the social insurance sector, Swiss Life has an interest in promoting a fully functional and integrated society. This led Swiss Life to join an initiative launched by economiesuisse and the Swiss Employer’s Association in June 2015 designed to strengthen the militia system.

The Public Affairs organisational unit is responsible for monitoring political challenges. In addition, the Political Communications Steering Committee meets four times a year. This internal committee is chaired by the Group CEO and sets the topical priorities.

Sensitising the younger generation to the topic of pension provision

In 2014, Swiss Life welcomed various student delegations to its head office in Zurich for an exchange of information on the topic of pension provision. A total of around 100 students from Ulm, Stuttgart and St. Gallen took part in the visit. The participants from Ulm got to grips with the topic of investment and the challenges posed by the current low interest rate environment. The students from Stuttgart were given an insight into the Swiss pension system and the role of the different types of life insurance. The exchange with the organisers of the St. Gallen Symposium, which has become almost a tradition, also took place in the summer. The student delegations showed great interest in the talks given by the Swiss Life experts and gained a meaningful insight into current, insurance-relevant topics. These meetings give Swiss Life the opportunity to gauge the pulse of the younger generation and to gain an insight into the topics that particularly interest them.

Exchange of expert knowledge across boundaries

Insurance companies have a serious social responsibility worldwide. Dialogue with sector specialists from outside Switzerland results in a valuable transfer of expertise. For this reason Swiss Life welcomed a delegation from the Estonian Insurance Association in May 2014. The talks held by the Swiss Life experts provided the circa. 30 participants with detailed insights into the special features of the Swiss pension system, the local market for life insurance and balance sheet structure management. The time spent together over lunch offered the opportunity for lively discussions about the similarities and differences between the Swiss and Estonian insurance sectors. Swiss Life values this exchange with experts from other countries as it provides the opportunity to gain a valuable outsider's view and a change in perspective.