Sustainability in Business Activities
Swiss Life maintains high standards for its advice, service and product range. Diligence and responsible action are the basis for successful business operations as well as for long-term, sustainable customer and business relationships.
Profitability and Growth
The economic performance and sustainable profitability of Swiss Life are fundamental to the long-term success and sustainability of its corporate management. Thanks to consistent implementation of its strategy, Swiss Life has successfully completed its last three Group-wide programmes since 2009.
Swiss Life’s business model is aligned to the long term. It is committed to keeping the promises made to its customers over the decades. That is why sustainable, long-term investing plays a central role in the life insurance business. Swiss Life has geared its investment strategy to ensuring that the interest margin remains positive for more than three decades, even if interest rates stay low. In addition, Swiss Life has continuously developed its business in recent years. With its successful enhancement of asset management for third parties, growth in advisory channels, modern products and targeted acquisitions, Swiss Life has significantly increased the contribution made by so-called fee business in recent years, and thus reduced its dependency on the investment result. In addition to the focus on profitability, capital efficiency remains a relevant control parameter in new insurance business.
With its current “Swiss Life 2021” Group-wide programme, Swiss Life is aiming at a continuous and yet ambitious further development of its profit sources, efficiency and distribution to shareholders. The programme, which is oriented towards Swiss Life’s purpose of enabling people to lead a self-determined life, focuses on four strategic thrusts. In addition to these focal areas and the corresponding financial objectives, sustainability and corporate responsibility are also part of the “Swiss Life 2021” Group-wide programme. With the consistent implementation of its strategy, Swiss Life is laying the groundwork for creating sustainable value for its stakeholder groups.
Further information on the Group-wide programme and the Swiss Life Group strategy may be found in the Annual Report in the Strategy & Brand section.
Swiss Life’s business is centred around people. Cooperation on an equal footing is a key feature in that regard – not only in providing customer advice but in our treatment of employees and our role in society.
What Swiss Life does is relevant for people: it enables its customers to lead a self-determined life, thus ensuring security and confidence. People are central to everything Swiss Life does. The services that Swiss Life provides are geared to people’s needs and address them as individuals.
Continuous measurement of customer satisfaction
Swiss Life continuously assesses customer satisfaction at the key contact points. Directly following interaction, customers are asked at selected contact points about their experience, satisfaction and willingness to recommend Swiss Life. Anyone who gives a negative response is contacted within 48 hours. This allows Swiss Life to ensure it has understood the reasons for a negative review and can offer the customer a solution. Customer satisfaction is surveyed in close collaboration with an independent market research institute.
Swiss Life has continuously expanded its Direct Customer Feedback programme in recent years.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Swiss Life bases its quantitative measurement of customer satisfaction on the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which indicates a customer’s willingness to recommend a provider to family and friends. The NPS is surveyed continuously and reported internally on a quarterly basis. What is more, the NPS is a component of objectives-setting and performance reviews of employees with customer contact.
The Swiss Life NPS has in almost all cases improved significantly at the key contact points – Consulting and Service Center – over the past four years, thanks to regular customer feedback analysis and the improvements derived from it.
The development of the NPS at consulting contact points
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|Switzerland Swiss Life Select||+52||+48||+41||+39|
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|Austria Swiss Life Select||+56||+58||+49||+44|
|UK Chase de Vere||+58||+56||+52||+56|
The NPS at the Consulting contact point improved for the most part in 2020. This was partly due to the flexibility of advisors and clients and their ability to swiftly adapt to the situation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Thanks to the fully digitalised advisory platform combined with competent, personal advice, the customer experience improved further, even in this exceptional year.
The development of the NPS at the Service Center contact point
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|Germany Individual life||+23||+16||+10||+4|
|Germany Swiss Life Select||+18||+9||+11||+10|
At the Service Center contact point, the NPS increased significantly, especially in Germany. Process optimisations and the introduction of independent quality assurance by employees produced this clear improvement. Customer feedback is regularly analysed and used to enhance processes. In France, where the NPS is still negative, a project to optimise customer experience over the telephone was initiated in 2020.
Promoting and consolidating a customer-oriented work culture
In addition, Swiss Life surveys the internal perception of customer orientation. The internal perception of customer centricity has been measured as part of a Group-wide survey on employee engagement since 2019. The survey is held biannually and conducted in cooperation with an independent consulting agency.
The 2019 survey showed that 86% of all employees see Swiss Life as a customer-oriented company. The results were 4 percentage points above those for the most successful companies worldwide and 10 percentage points above the global average for companies in the financial sector.
Further measures to promote customer satisfaction
In 2020, priority was given to digital support for customer relationships and data management. Among other things, online portals are now available for customers in several divisions. They thus have the opportunity, for example, to manage contact data themselves or to gain faster access to important financial information. In addition, key documents can also be signed digitally, which shortens the processing time.
Exchanges with other stakeholders
In addition to customer centricity, Swiss Life also engages in dialogue with its interest groups on an equal footing in other areas. This includes dialogue with employees (see section on Sustainability as an Employer) and regarding its role in society (section on Sustainability in Society).
Products, Services and Advice
A customer relationship at Swiss Life often spans several decades. Thanks to its individual pension and financial advice for private and corporate customers and proven investment expertise for institutional investors, Swiss Life enables people to lead a selfdetermined life.
Swiss Life’s consulting and product strategy combines optimal customer value with profitability for the company. Swiss Life offers private and corporate clients comprehensive and individual advice plus a broad range of proprietary and partner products through its financial advisors, agents and distribution partners. Swiss Life Select, the subsidiary specialising in financial planning for private households and brokering financial products, as well as the advisors at tecis, Horbach, Proventus, Chase de Vere and Fincentrum, use the Best Select approach to let their customers choose the product that suits them best. In this way, customers are given access to an extensive range of products from many suppliers. Swiss Life Asset Managers also offers comprehensive investment solutions and develops tailor-made investment strategies for its own insurance companies and for third-party clients, such as pension funds, investment foundations, asset managers and private clients.
Transparent product information and promotion of financial literacy
In addition to a customer-focused consulting approach, Swiss Life pays great attention to extensive and understandable documentation. In addition to product documents on various insurance and provisions topics on the local websites or customer portals, supporting video sequences are available along with publications for download.
Swiss Life would like to help people develop their financial literacy so they can make better decisions. That is why, among other things, it has supported the Swiss financial literacy platform fintool.ch for years now. In Germany, through the Swiss Life Stiftung für Chancenreichtum und Zukunft (Foundation for Opportunities and the Future), Swiss Life specifically assists projects that promote the education of socially disadvantaged children and young people and support them in difficult life situations.
Customer centricity and Group-wide value proposition standards
Long-term benefit commitments and obligations arising from pension and financial products demand a precise analysis of the legal and regulatory environment and of the associated risk. This also provides the basis for customer-oriented consulting and is a major factor in the avoidance of mistakes or violations in advising, and their possible consequences.
Swiss Life makes sure that it can deliver its value proposition through mandatory Group-wide regulations that are implemented through corresponding local directives:
- The specific structure of products and services is based on Group-wide standards and stringent compliance with local regulatory requirements and local laws. The ability of the local Compliance teams to make adjustments, even to existing products and services, is guaranteed. Groupwide standards for the development of products and services are also adapted to framework conditions as required.
- Product management is regulated through a number of directives at Group level. Swiss Life has established a uniform, auditable product development process to that end. This process defines the minimum requirements of local product development as well as the approval and escalation process for initiatives at Group level. The observance of laws and provisions, practical customer value and the quality of customer documentation are naturally essential criteria in the assessment process.
Sustainability in the insurance business
In the reporting year, Swiss Life further developed its Group-wide approach for the integration of sustainability criteria in the insurance area. Swiss Life’s underwriting process ensures on an ongoing basis that the insured portfolio complies with the company’s fundamental standards and values. Risk underwriting is in keeping with the regulatory requirements and with Swiss Life’s commitment to holistic and value-oriented risk management. At the same time, Swiss Life consistently takes ESG (environmental, social and good governance) factors into account.
Life insurance and risk products make a significant contribution to a self-determined life for insured persons. Moreover, these products play a significant role in occupational pensions in many developed markets. Prior to signing a contract, Swiss Life evaluates ESG factors as part of the risk assessment in addition to the medical and financial aspects. Recognising its social responsibility, Swiss Life seeks to provide insurance cover for all legitimate companies and individuals. It is thus selective in the way it decides on any rejections or exclusions on the grounds of sustainability. Swiss Life insures people and does not wish to exclude them from any relevant insurance cover because their employer falls short in terms of sustainability. If Swiss Life identifies any ESG-related deficiencies during its risk assessment, it seeks to sensitise its customers to the topic through dialogue along with information. If indications of a lack of respect for human rights are identified during the risk assessment, this may lead to the insurance application being rejected following clarification with the applicant.
Swiss Life has products with integrated sustainability aspects in various markets. For example, Swiss Life in France has developed a sustainable investment solution with a focus on responsible management as well as ESG criteria. As part of its continuous product development processes, Swiss Life works on other sustainable insurance, pension and financial products.
Sustainable products in asset management
Customers in the investment business can also benefit from Swiss Life’s ESG competencies and experience. In asset management, Swiss Life has a range of sustainable investment products. These include the securities fund in France or ESG solutions in the area of emerging markets, which have been awarded the SRI sustainability label. SRI is a sustainability label for financial products recognised by the French government. Development of “impact products” has been continued in the real estate area. These products, which focus on investments that have a positive impact on sustainable development, will supplement the existing ESG offering in other asset classes in the future. In addition, Swiss Life develops new investment solutions and strategies in various asset classes that focus on specific ESG topics or on companies that meet strict sustainability criteria.
Swiss Life is pursuing digitalisation along the entire value chain. The focus is on initiatives that create sustainable added value for customers and employees.
As a pensions and financial services company, Swiss Life puts people at the centre of its business. The same applies to digitalisation. The roughly 15 800 advisors who conduct Swiss Life’s dialogue with customers have access at all times to digital solutions that support them in the advisory process. Personal contact remains a decisive factor in this regard. This purposeful combination of personal advice and digital support is at the root of Swiss Life’s “phygital approach”.
In this way, Swiss Life is meeting an area of customer demand – as clearly highlighted by a representative survey conducted by the company in 2019 in Switzerland, France and Germany. People want digital aids that help advisors to identify the best solution and thus give them more time to provide personal advice.
Staying close to customers during the pandemic thanks to video consulting
The number of consultations increased sharply in 2020 due to the predominantly digital customer contact. The fact that more customers were at home and reachable due to the measures taken to contain the Covid-19 pandemic also contributed to this increase. Thanks to early investments in digital initiatives and tools, Swiss Life had already created the technological framework it needs to remain available to its customers during the Covid-19 pandemic. As client visits were temporarily no longer possible, digital communication tools such as video consulting were increasingly used. In Germany alone, for example, the number of video consultations per month has increased roughly sixfold. The much more frequent use of virtual advisory services led to a reduction in CO2 emissions in the year under review due to advisors’ restricted travel activities. This has a positive impact on Swiss Life’s carbon footprint (see the chapter on Sustainability in the Environment).
Digital customer portals and new forms of collaboration
In addition to its personal advice, Swiss Life offers its customers access to, among other things, online portals, where they can view their documents anytime and anywhere, make appointments, request offers and make changes quickly and unbureaucratically. Online tools are also provided so that customers can simulate scenarios on their own. They can decide how they want to interact with Swiss Life and choose their own mode of access. Swiss Life applies industry standards and uses digital solutions to avoid discontinuities in the use of media and guarantee high quality.
It also makes increasing use of digital platforms within the company. Group-wide collaboration software makes it possible to hold internal and external meetings in virtual rooms and to jointly edit or share files. Thanks to early investments in the digital workplace and mobile working, Swiss Life was able to continue operating across organisational and divisional lines during the Covid-19 pandemic. This enabled Swiss Life to safeguard business processes at all times and to remain available for its customers and partners.
Swiss Life has for several years been systematically integrating ecological and social factors, as well as aspects of good corporate governance, into the investment process and risk management for nearly 90% of the assets it manages. In the year under review this approach was developed further to include a special focus on climate scenario analyses and the integration of climate indicators into the investment process.
Swiss Life is an asset manager for its proprietary insurance companies and for third-party clients, such as pension funds, other insurers and private investors. The long-term protection of customer funds and the optimal allocation of risk capital are the main objectives. Invested assets must be secure, profitable and liquid in their entirety. Due to the long-term nature of its liabilities, Swiss Life invests predominantly in fixed-income securities such as government and corporate bonds as well as in real estate, equities and infrastructure. Its investment decisions have always been informed by a long-term assessment of risks and returns.
To further strengthen its commitment to responsible investing, Swiss Life has formalised its approach to integrating ESG criteria into investment and risk management processes. The resulting Responsible Investment Framework is aligned to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Swiss Life as asset owner and Swiss Life Asset Managers as investment manager, as well as all the subsidiaries, are fully committed to the PRI and disclose their responsible investing activities accordingly. In the year under review the PRI rewarded this achievement with (among other things) an A+ rating in the Strategy and Governance module.
As a major investor, Swiss Life is committed to ensuring that direct investments in its portfolio are in line with Swiss Life’s fundamental standards and values. As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, Swiss Life is committed among other things to the fundamental principles for respecting human rights and protecting the environment.
Systematic integration of ESG criteria
Swiss Life systematically integrates ecological and social factors, including aspects of good corporate governance, into the investment process and risk management for all asset classes. This results in a broader information base and more balanced risk cover.
ESG factors are taken into account in nearly 90% of the total assets managed by Swiss Life. The remaining 10% are investment products such as share index-tracking strategies or mortgages, where this sustainability approach currently still cannot be used because of their product structure. The sustainability approach is applied not only to proprietary assets, but also to third-party assets.
Sustainability in securities investment
In the investment process for securities – for example, shares and corporate and government bonds – Swiss Life uses, among other things, analyses by an independent international ESG research and valuation service provider. ESG information on over 14 000 share and bond issuers worldwide helps Swiss Life to swiftly identify and anticipate the risks relating to environmental and social issues as well as governance aspects. This ensures early recognition of risks arising from ESG problems such as infringements of labour law, shortcomings in corporate governance and indications of corruption or environmental risks relating to climate change. Swiss Life sets ESG thresholds based on external ratings to steer clear of issuers with a poor ESG performance. Specifically, issuers that have a low ESG rating or are involved in serious ESG controversies are avoided. In its credit analyses for fixed-income investment issuers, Swiss Life takes into account climate indicators such as carbon footprints in addition to ESG ratings and controversy assessments. On this basis, detailed credit reports are formulated and analysed by the risk committees. Unlike fixed-income investments, for which Swiss Life pursues an active investment approach, a passive approach is taken for equity investments. As a result, there is limited flexibility to exclude investments from the investment universe. In most of the equity investment strategies, however, ESG ratings or controversies are used as a factor to optimise the portfolio. In addition, a great deal of importance is attached to the exercise of shareholder voting rights in equity investments. The exposure to portfolio companies will also be gradually expanded over the next few years.
Climate risks and exit from coal for power stations
Swiss Life supports the goals of the Paris Agreement. For example, it has defined a strategy for its insurance business investments to exit the carbon-intensive coal sector. Swiss Life refrains from investing in bonds issued by companies which derive more than 10% of their revenue from the mining, extraction and sale of coal for power stations. In the year under review, all securities of these coal companies were sold. A corresponding threshold also applies to infrastructure investments: Swiss Life does not invest in projects or companies in which more than 10% of the company or project valuation is attributable to contributions from transactions involving coal for power stations.
Swiss Life endeavours to persuade third-party customers to apply a similar exit strategy to their assets.
Climate change and the associated risks are also central to the “active ownership” approach. Recently, Swiss Life joined “Climate Action 100+” in order to support this collective undertaking. Swiss Life has also launched a green investment programme. Here the carbon footprint of companies and countries is used to control the portfolios’ carbon intensity. In this context, Swiss Life has also set itself the goal of investing CHF 2 billion in green bonds by 2023.
Further selective exclusions
For all its assets, Swiss Life has defined specific limits for investment in the defence industry. Swiss Life recognises that sovereign states have a right to self-defence, but refrains from investing in companies that are significantly involved in the production of internationally banned armaments such as land mines, cluster ammunition, and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. For this, Swiss Life uses data from an independent ESG research and rating service provider plus the generally known exclusion lists for controversial weapons published by PAX, an international non-profit and NGO-type peace organisation, and from SVVK-ASIR, the Swiss association for responsible investments.
Exercise of voting rights
Swiss Life also represents its interests by exercising voting rights and actively fosters responsible investing through “active ownership”. In this way, it strives to increase the company’s long-term value. ESG factors are used to make a balanced assessment of the purpose of motions and the overall benefits for the respective company’s shareholders. In the past financial year, for instance, Swiss Life voted for corporate transparency in social and environmental aspects and for better governance. When exercising voting rights, Swiss Life uses analyses and services provided by the external proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and other sources. In 2020, Swiss Life voted 5750 times at 310 annual general meetings. In 0.3% of cases it deviated from the recommendations made by ISS and in 9% of cases it voted against the Board of Directors.
Swiss Life seeks to minimise the transitory and physical risks associated with climate change in the management of its investment portfolio by focusing on sustainable long-term investment. Thus forward-looking indicators from scenario analyses (e.g. “climate value-at-risk”) are integrated into the investment and risk management processes in addition to carbon intensity. In order to better assess its understanding of climate risks, Swiss Life has participated in the Paris Agreement Capital Transition Assessment (PACTA) since 2017. This was organised by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the “2°Investing Initiative”. The integration of climate scenario metrics and the further application of different transition scenarios will be continued step by step.
Responsible real estate management
Swiss Life is one of Europe’s leading real estate investors and has the biggest private real estate portfolio in Switzerland. Preserving and increasing value in the long term and ensuring sustainable earnings are of central significance to Swiss Life. All decisions are thus oriented to a longterm property life cycle.
To ensure that sustainability criteria can be integrated systematically into the value creation process in real estate investment, Swiss Life has developed its own Responsible Property Investment Framework. Applying to all real estate management activities, this optimises the environmental and social aspects of the real estate portfolio.
- In the transaction process, a due diligence checklist is used to identify sustainability opportunities and thus highlight potential to increase value. At the same time, this checklist allows early identification of potential risks so that value can be preserved in the long term.
- Sustainability aspects play a central role in real estate development, from the feasibility study to the construction decision, and are integrated into the planning process. For example, Swiss Life defines minimum energy standards, examines ecological risk profiles, analyses the socio-economic effects of real estate development projects and decides on the certification of buildings according to sustainability labels such as Minergie, DGNB, SGNI, LEED, BREEAM and HQE. These labels provide external confirmation of the sustainable quality of buildings.
- Implementing sustainability measures in property management – for example extensive renovation, specific optimisation measures, efficient in-house utilities and maintenance work – helps reduce energy consumption in the portfolio. In turn, the associated increase in the energy efficiency of the properties leads to a reduction in CO2 emissions. Energy-related maintenance activities (e.g. replacement of heating generators or refurbishment of the building shell) can thus produce energy and CO2 savings of up to 50% at the properties concerned. In this way, dependence on fossil fuels is reduced further, with a shift to renewable energy sources (e.g. photovoltaics, geothermal energy, use of river and sea water or pellets).
- Swiss Life brings about improvements through energy-saving settings for technical installations and smaller-scale refurbishment measures with a shorter payback period (e.g. lighting systems or insulation of water pipes). Energy and CO2 savings of around 10% can be achieved through these optimisation measures.
Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark
Since 2018, Swiss Life has participated in the annual Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). This sustainability benchmarking analysis enables Swiss Life to systematically measure sustainability aspects of the real estate portfolios evaluated and integrate them into its facility management. In 2020, almost 65% of the total real estate assets under management and around 85% of the proprietary insurance asset management portfolio of Swiss Life Asset Managers were submitted to the GRESB. Nine out of twelve audited portfolios were awarded the label “Green Star”.
Sustainability in infrastructure investments and clean energy investments
Swiss Life incorporates ESG considerations, including a systematic ESG analysis, in the due diligence process of infrastructure investments. Each investment recommendation includes an ESG section that indicates the rating for 12 ESG themes and an aggregated ESG score. The rating is based on a systematic ESG questionnaire developed in-house to assess indicators in various areas and covers all ESG topics. Swiss Life also monitors ESG criteria and relevant developments on a quarterly basis as part of the regular monitoring processes of its underlying assets.
The infrastructure funds managed by Swiss Life Asset Managers and the Fontavis subsidiary hold several infrastructure properties in the field of renewable energies as direct investments. Swiss Life Asset Managers and Fontavis have some CHF 1.1 billion invested in wind farms, hydro, solar and biomass power plants, primarily in the USA and Europe. In total, around 2.4 GWh of renewable energy is produced in these plants, which corresponds to the energy supply for around 310 000 Swiss households. Thus Swiss Life’s infrastructure investments contribute to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Responsible Investment Report
In the year under review, Swiss Life Asset Managers published its first cross-asset-class Responsible Investment Report. The report can be downloaded under the following link: www.swisslife-am.com/rireport.
Compliance at Swiss Life
Swiss Life sets great store by compliance with all applicable legal provisions and regulatory stipulations. Correct and honest employee behaviour is an indispensable prerequisite for this.
Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct contains Swiss Life’s Group-wide values and principles and its rules of conduct, which are binding for all employees.
The Code of Conduct applies Group-wide and is reviewed at regular intervals and adjusted as necessary. Acceptance and observance of the Code of Conduct is confirmed by all employees when they join the company. The Code of Conduct can be viewed at www.swisslife.com/en/coc.
Swiss Life has local internal reporting offices that promptly investigate any suspected violations of the Code of Conduct. In this context, anonymous reports are also accepted.
Business conduct compliant with the law and conducive to integrity
Established processes ensure adequate identification, management and monitoring of compliance and data protection risks at Swiss Life.
Compliance monitors and assesses the legal and regulatory environment, taking account of local legislation. The aim is to comply with legal and regulatory requirements and to prevent all forms of corruption and bribery. Swiss Life also considers it very important to observe and comply with sanctions and embargoes, as well as the provisions relating to the prevention of money laundering.
Regular risk assessments as well as ongoing and comprehensive compliance reporting to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors and the Risk Committee of the Corporate Executive Board are carried out to safeguard their respective responsibilities. These support the implementation of all requisite measures at Group level and within the business units.
The compliance framework is subject to periodic review and is reworked and adapted to new prerequisites as necessary. The duties, responsibilities and competencies of Compliance are set out and documented within the governance framework of Swiss Life.
Swiss Life incurred no significant monetary penalties or fines during the year under review, nor did the company make any settlements in connection with corruption charges or anticompetitive conduct.
Swiss Life maintains a complete set of directives to ensure that the Code of Conduct is put into practice in daily activities. The directives contain binding Group-wide minimum standards which are included in the local regulations of all business units. The directives are periodically reviewed in terms of relevance and accuracy and, if necessary, adjusted to new regulatory and business requirements.
Regular training ensures that the employees are kept informed about the relevant compliance themes and directives. Within six months of joining, all new employees throughout the Group receive training on the Code of Conduct and essential rules of behaviour as well as on the data protection and data security requirements. Also within this period, all new employees are given training – to the extent relevant for their area of work – in preventing money-laundering, in combating the financing of terrorism and in sanctions and embargoes. All employees also undergo refresher training on these issues every two years. During these training sessions, employees are required to confirm their adherence to the Code of Conduct. Participation in such training courses is mandatory and subject to monitoring, and the aim is a 100% participation and success rate. Divisions for which the regulator has prescribed more frequent training must undergo refreshers more often. As of 2020, moreover, some external advisors and other contractors are being trained in compliance issues or required to give a contractual assurance that they will comply with the Code of Conduct.
Data protection has priority at Swiss Life. All legal, regulatory and internal requirements are implemented throughout the Group. Group-wide standards for data protection have been defined. These cover all areas of business and are specified and implemented through divisional data protection directives and data protection consent forms. These govern the processing, storage, deletion, archiving and transfer of data and documents. In addition, Swiss Life has binding standards and regulations for uniform data classification, the handling of personal and highly sensitive data and for trade secrets, as well as for the rights of data subjects, such as the right to access, rectification and deletion. When processing personal data, Swiss Life consistently complies with the applicable regulations for Switzerland and the EU, and with other local laws. Swiss Life provides personal data to third parties only if the latter are to process it on behalf of Swiss Life.
Infringements of data protection must be reported immediately to Compliance, and information security incidents are handled consistently throughout the Group as part of operational risk management. The compliance framework contains defined processes for dealing with infringements of data protection. These include, for example, informing the data subjects and supervisory authorities.
There were no significant data protection infringements within the Swiss Life Group during the reporting year.
The individual divisions have their own data protection officers and ensure that their employees are all given regular mandatory training in the material. The line implements these requirements and assesses their observance in collaboration with the relevant divisional Compliance teams, as well as at Group level. Compliance regularly assesses the implementation and observance of the applicable provisions. The Board of Directors’ Audit Committee and the Corporate Executive Board’s Risk Committee are kept informed on an ongoing basis about data protection topics within the framework of compliance reporting, thus assuming their responsibility in the area of data protection. Corporate Internal Audit regularly reviews data protection as part of its auditing activities and addresses any weak spots with the appropriate measures.
Data are secured and protected with the appropriate organisational and technical protection measures and are a part of risk management. More information on risk management can be found in the Annual Report in the Risk Management section.
Swiss Life also requires its external service providers and suppliers to comply with these high sustainability standards and to thereby accept their responsibility towards their employees, society and the environment.
Swiss Life mainly accesses products and services from the following categories for its insurance business:
- Professional services (advisory services for example)
- Marketing and public relations
- Human resources
- IT services and telecoms
- IT software and IT hardware
- Facility management services (e.g. security personnel, building maintenance, cleaning) and general services (refreshments, electricity, gas, etc.)
- Travel and events
Most of the suppliers and service providers in Switzerland are domestically based. About 20% are from the EU.
Swiss Life also works mainly with national suppliers in its other core markets of France and Germany. Foreign suppliers account for under 5% in both countries.
When working with major international companies in the IT area, Swiss Life works wherever possible with their national companies at all locations.
Moreover, Swiss Life is one of Europe’s leading real estate investors and has the biggest private real estate portfolio in Switzerland. In this context, Swiss Life mainly uses external services for architecture and expert planning services plus general construction services.
Guidelines for suppliers and service providers
In all divisions, companies that wish to work with Swiss Life must be able to ensure compliance with the relevant statutory provisions. Evaluation of key suppliers and service providers is integrated in the Swiss Life Group’s risk management framework.
If any of the agreed standards are violated, Swiss Life demands that corrective measures be implemented. In the event of serious or repeated violations, the cooperation will be terminated. The right to carry out possible audits of suppliers and service providers is contractually agreed. This may include requesting confirmation of ISO certification, checking the validity of such certification and analysing the underlying reports.
When concluding contracts with suppliers and service providers in the core markets of Switzerland, France and Germany, Swiss Life expects them to guarantee the following standards as a rule:
- Compliance with applicable environmental and climate protection standards
- Compliance with legal regulations on working hours and ensuring working conditions that do not endanger employee health or security.
- Fulfilment of legal regulations relating to salaries, compensating of overtime and payouts.
- Ensuring that their employees can work in an environment free of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, handicap or other attributes.
- Respect for employees’ rights of association and collective bargaining.
- Renunciation of child and forced labour
- Compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
In its core markets of Switzerland, France and Germany, Swiss Life gives preference to products and services from companies that can be shown to have a certified environmental management system (ISO 14001 or EMAS) and general quality certification (e.g. ISO 9001 or ISAE 3402).
In France, Swiss Life commits to monitoring its strategic suppliers’ environmental, social and ethical risks based on the EcoVadis methodology, which is derived from a framework of 21 corporate social responsibility criteria. The methodology is oriented towards leading and recognised standards, such as the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, the “UN Global Compact” and ISO 26000, and is supervised by an international scientific committee. When issuing tenders, moreover, Swiss Life France routinely asks for any available corporate responsibility rating results and ISO certification, and decides on a case-by-case basis whether certification is required as a basis for cooperation.
Swiss Life aims to enhance the monitoring of the environmental, social and ethical risks of its strategic suppliers through appropriate monitoring platforms in all its core markets. At the start of 2020, moreover, Swiss Life launched a Group-wide initiative for the continuous development of sustainable procurement principles. As part of this initiative, Swiss Life has harmonised the procurement of office IT equipment across the Group and exclusively procures sustainabilitysealed devices under global contracts. Swiss Life switched to certified paper for its new procurement of brochures for customer advisors.