Sustainability in Society
As a pension provider, Swiss Life assumes social and economic responsibility. In addition, Swiss Life supports projects and institutions in the fields of culture, science, education and research that promote self-determination and confidence.
Insurance companies are an important pillar of the economy, both as providers of products and services and as employers, taxpayers and investors. Furthermore, the insurance sector offers young people an attractive starting point for a career.
In Switzerland, the insurance sector as a whole generates gross value-added of nearly CHF 30 billion and makes a significant contribution of nearly 5% to the country’s economic output.
However, Swiss Life’s economic contribution is much more than that.
- Insurance companies use statistical tools to translate dangers and uncertainty into risks that can be evaluated and mitigated. Over the past centuries, they have fundamentally changed society’s view of risks: instead of being seen as a potential loss, risks are now often seen as an opportunity.
- Swiss Life covers risks and, with its products and services, offers people the chance to focus on their skills and look to the future with confidence. Swiss Life’s services help people to accumulate capital and ensure they achieve financial security.
- Through their skills and their work, Swiss Life’s advisors play a key role in improving the financial literacy of society.
- At the same time, as a long-term investor, Swiss Life contributes to the stability of the financial centre.
- As one of Europe’s leading institutional real estate investors and owner of Switzerland’s largest private real estate portfolio, Swiss Life invests several hundred million francs every year in the renewal of its properties, and thus plays a part in shaping urban areas, creating living and working space, and acts as a key principal on the construction scene.
- As a taxpayer, Swiss Life makes a contribution to the economy and to society, as well as offering jobs and training opportunities to many people in its role as an employer.
Swiss Life’s business is relevant for people and society. The consequences of demographic change are widely underestimated and entail new challenges. If people are living ever longer and state pension systems reach their limits, every single individual will have to take on greater personal responsibility for their own future provisions. At the same time, self-determination is a basic human need, and the source of the Swiss Life purpose: Swiss Life enables people to lead a selfdetermined life.
Swiss Life’s operational environment is significantly defined by political and regulatory conditions. For example, they have a direct effect on product design, processes and the manner of reporting to shareholders, supervisory authorities and the public.
Swiss Life monitors politically relevant issues and develops its own positions. It maintains dialogue with the relevant players. A Political Communication Steering Committee defines the strategic focus. Its members are the Group CEO and the Group CFO, the CEOs of divisions headquartered in Switzerland, the General Counsel, the Chief Risk Officer and the head of Group Communications and Strategic Marketing. The steering committee meets four times a year and defines its political communication priorities. The Public Affairs team is responsible for implementing the measures at operational level.
Swiss Life is committed to promoting a competitive business location and appropriate regulation in all markets. In this, it focuses on the most significant issues for its business areas, for example pensions and insurance, investment and consulting, and insurance solvency and consumer protection requirements.
Stakeholder management and work on industry associations
Swiss Life fosters contacts with representatives of the political, administrative and business communities as well as supervisory authorities. In its direct exchanges with political groups, Swiss Life aims to better understand their opinions, expectations and perceptions while at the same time gauging how the enactment or amendment of legal principles could affect its business. 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 around CHF 500 000. No (significant) support was provided to parties in the markets outside Switzerland. Here, Swiss Life is guided by the rules of its 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.
Political advocacy work and communication in Switzerland, France and Germany are closely coordinated with trade associations. Moreover, a number of company executives are members of various national trade associations. The Chairman of Swiss Life’s Board of Directors, Rolf Dörig, is chairman of the Swiss Insurance Association (SIA). In addition, members of the Corporate Executive Board and Swiss Life employees work on various SIA committees.
Swiss Life France is a member of the Fédération française de l’assurance – FFA (French Insurance Federation), France’s largest trade association in the insurance sector. The company is represented through a number of employees who participate in the committees for different insurancerelated themes.
Swiss Life Germany is represented on the major committees of the German Insurance Association (GDV) and is a member of various associations of intermediaries. It is in regular professional dialogue with the AFW Bundesverband Finanzdienstleistung e.V. (German federal association of financial service providers) as well as with the Verband unabhängiger Finanzdienstleistungs- Unternehmen in Europa e.V. (Votum, an association representing the interests of financial service providers operating throughout Europe). In addition to its advocacy work through these associations, in 2019 Swiss Life Germany established a new “Regulatory and Public Affairs” unit, headed by the General Counsel. The role of this staff unit is to ensure the best possible alignment of the most relevant regulatory issues and the related political communication with the goal of optimum advocacy of the interests of financial services distributors and insurers.
In addition to its other memberships (see Memberships), Swiss Life Asset Managers has a seat on the board of Immobilien Schweiz (Real Estate Switzerland). Issues followed at national level in the reporting period included sustainable investing, tenancy law and cantonal implementation of the Spatial Planning Act (value-added levy).
Committed to the militia system
Swiss Life is committed to Switzerland’s militia system (part-time public service). This promotes better understanding among the worlds of politics, society and business and enables valuable knowledge transfer. Swiss Life therefore supports employees who take on a political or public office. Full-time employees can use up to 20% of their working hours for such work. In addition, Swiss Life holds regular events in Switzerland for employees who hold public or political mandates. During the reporting period, Swiss Life organised an event called “Transfer” in conjunction with Avenir Suisse, Swiss Re, Zurich Insurance Group, Helvetia and Axa. At this event, over 60 mandate holders from different companies discussed current political issues. In addition, various activities were organised to mark Switzerland’s “Jahr der Milizarbeit” (year of public service). Swiss Life played a key role in shaping some of these activities and was therefore able to make an important contribution to improving understanding of the militia system.
Swiss Life supports projects and institutions in the fields of culture, science, education and research, and operates seven foundations. The focus is on encouraging commitment, self-determination and confidence.
- In 2005, Swiss Life founded the “Perspectives” Foundation, which supports charitable initiatives in the fields of health, science, education, culture and sport and spends CHF 1.3 to 1.5 million every year on charitable projects in Switzerland. In 2019, support of around CHF 1.5 million was provided for 127 projects. All funds are made available in their entirety by the founder, Swiss Life.
- In its home market Swiss Life runs a second foundation, the “Anniversary Foundation for Public Health and Medical Research”, which was founded in 1957 to mark the company’s centenary. This foundation supports medical research projects and specific charitable organisations for people with physical and mental disabilities. Swiss Life has made annual donations of around CHF 400 000 to this foundation in recent years.
- In addition to is foundation work, Swiss Life promotes Swiss film-making and helps artists follow their own path. For example, in 2019 Swiss Life supported the Solothurn Film Festival, the Locarno Festival and the Zurich Film Festival. Moreover, Swiss Life in Switzerland supports classical music through its financial commitment to Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, Zurich Opera House, the Lucerne Festival and the Davos Festival.
- The Swiss Life Select distribution company operates the “Confidence for Children” foundation in Switzerland, which aims to improve the life and development opportunities of disadvantaged children and give them a better chance at leading a self-determined and independent life. Among its key undertakings are two projects in Kyrgyzstan providing medical care to children with cleft lips and palates. The foundation is supported principally by Swiss Life Select financial advisors and employees, who donated CHF 120 000 to the foundation in 2019. Swiss Life Select Switzerland pays all administrative costs.
- Swiss Life Asset Managers has sponsored the “Swiss Life Thesis Award” for the past six years. This award, presented in cooperation with the Institute for Financial Services Zug (IFZ), part of Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, and the business journal Finanz und Wirtschaft, provides a platform for innovative and practice-oriented research work at Swiss institutes of higher education. The best theses in the fields of financial investments, financial markets, financial services companies, financial instruments and corporate finance are singled out for awards each year. The Swiss Life Thesis Award comes to CHF 20 000 in total.
- Since its establishment in 2008, “Fondation Swiss Life” has supported long-term projects in the areas of healthcare (Institut Curie and France Alzheimer), voluntary work by employees (Aider à Aider – Help to Help) and, since 2014, art work that brings together two different art forms, music and photography (Prix Swiss Life à 4 mains).
- In 2019, the “Fondation Swiss Life” was the principal source of funding for a cancer research project conducted by the Institut Curie. Donations totalling EUR 117 000 were collected by employees in connection with their work in sales.
- The “Fondation Swiss Life” also supported people with Alzheimer’s and their relatives and carers through France Alzheimer in the reporting period. The purpose is to enable innovative nonmedical therapies such as art and music therapy.
- In addition, the foundation supports projects and associations in which Swiss Life employees are actively involved. “Fondation Swiss Life” donated a total of EUR 291 000 to all initiatives during 2019.
- Through the Swiss Life Stiftung für Chancenreichtum und Zukunft (Foundation for opportunities and the future), Swiss Life Germany does its part for educational equity and equal opportunity in Germany. It works towards having as many people as possible – regardless of their social background – remain curious, acquire knowledge and, as a result, lead a selfdetermined life. The Foundation is mainly financed with donations from employees and financial advisors. Swiss Life Germany covers staff and administrative costs, thus allowing 100% of donation revenues to go towards project work. In 2019, its third year of operation, the Foundation provided support totalling just under EUR 430 000 for 35 initiatives.
- In 2019, the foundation set up a new project “KinderHelden” , a mentoring initiative that gives primary school children who started life in challenging conditions better opportunities for education and a place in society. The project will run for at least three years and more than ten Swiss Life employees already volunteer as mentors. Preparations are under way for a further “KinderHelden” location in Munich, which is scheduled to open in 2020.
- Corpus Sireo, a German company belonging to Swiss Life Asset Managers, supports the charitable “Cornelius Stiftung für Kinder suchtkranker Eltern” (Foundation for children of parents suffering from addiction). The foundation focuses on the advancement of children from underprivileged homes afflicted by addiction, and thus offers them better perspectives for the future. Its average yearly donation volume is EUR 100 000.
- Swiss Life Select in Austria runs a foundation called “Zuversicht für Kinder” (Giving children confidence). In 2019, this foundation supported 20 local and international aid projects as well as providing medical aid in specific cases. Donations of EUR 65 000 were collected, mainly from Swiss Life Select financial advisors. With their help and the support of customers and private individuals, numerous children were given a new outlook on life. In addition, for the past four years Swiss Life Select in Austria has been the main sponsor of the “Junge Philharmonie Wien” (Vienna young people’s philharmonic orchestra).
- Six years ago, employees of Swiss Life International in Luxembourg initiated “Rock Against Cancer” , a benefit concert sponsored by Swiss Life Global Solutions. This annual event raises money for two foundations: Fondation Cancer Luxembourg and Fondation Kriibskrank Kanner (children with cancer). Both foundations are committed to fighting cancer. Although they were not founded by Swiss Life International, it has supported them through donations for years.