As was the case last year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is again serving as external statutory auditor for all Swiss Life Group companies that are directly or indirectly held by Swiss Life Holding under its scope of consolidation.
PwC confirms that it meets the legal requirements concerning professional qualification and independence.
Duration of the mandate and term of office of the lead auditor
The Articles of Association stipulate that the external auditor is to be elected by the General Meeting of Shareholders for one financial year at a time. When Swiss Life Holding was established in 2002, PwC was named statutory auditor and Group auditor. Since then PwC has been elected without fail. PwC has also acted as statutory auditor for Swiss Life Ltd since 1994. Swiss Life Holding last invited tenders for its statutory auditor and Group auditor mandate for the 2008 financial year. On completion of the evaluation process, the Board of Directors, in accordance with the proposal of the Audit Committee, again nominated PwC as its statutory auditor and Group auditor at the General Meeting of Shareholders.
The partner at PwC in charge of auditing the Swiss Life Holding annual financial statements and consolidated financial statements (lead auditor) has exercised this function since 2018.
The role of lead auditor rotates in compliance with the term of office regulations stipulated by the Swiss Code of Obligations, the independency guidelines set forth by the Swiss Institute of Certified Accountants and Tax Consultants, and internal guidelines at PwC. Under the Swiss Code of Obligations and independency guidelines set forth by the Swiss Institute of Certified Accountants and Tax Consultants, the maximum term of office of the lead auditor is limited to seven years.
In 2019 the auditing fees credited to PricewaterhouseCoopers came to around CHF 9.1 million (prior year: CHF 8.6 million). This includes the fees for reviewing the 2019 half-year accounts.
PwC invoiced additional fees of approximately CHF 0.9 million in 2019 (prior year CHF 1.0 million), for services in the areas of risk management, fiscal and legal consulting and other advisory services. All services were performed in compliance with the relevant independency regulations set out in the Swiss Code of Obligations, the Audit Supervision Act and FINMA circular 2013/3, “Auditing”.
Supervisory and control instruments vis-à-vis the auditors
The Audit Committee maintains regular contact with the external auditors. It evaluates the independence of the external auditors and identifies possible conflicts of interest. It also examines the terms and conditions of the external audit mandates and assesses the audit plan and strategy for the year in question.
The external auditors submit regular written reports on the status of the auditing work. They also submit detailed reports on the half-year and annual financial statements to the Audit Committee. At the end of the year, the external auditors draw up a comprehensive report for the attention of the General Meeting of Shareholders and a detailed report on the financial year just completed for the attention of the Audit Committee, the Board of Directors and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA.
The Audit Committee also acknowledges and approves the various recommendations of the external auditors, including the Management Letter. If required, the committee discusses with representatives of the external auditors any issues which could have a major impact, either collectively or individually, on the financial situation or the result of the audit.
In the year under review, representatives of the external auditors attended all Audit Committee meetings, either in their entirety or for specific items on the agenda.