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The 2021 financial year was eventful and successful for Swiss Life in many ways. Firstly, it saw the conclusion of our “Swiss Life 2021” Group-wide programme. In addition, we worked on the new goals that will guide us through the next three years. So, 2021 was both the conclusion and the start.
Our employees continued to focus on customers’ needs during the past financial year. They worked for them and for Swiss Life with great engagement and a lot of passion. Furthermore, in doing so, they never used the adversities of the pandemic as an excuse. And so we again achieved all our goals in the past financial year, and in many cases even exceeded them. These successes enable us to propose a dividend of CHF 25 per share for the 2021 financial year to the Annual General Meeting (previous year CHF 21).
With the new “Swiss Life 2024” Group-wide programme, which we presented to the public at the end of last year, we aim to build on the successes of recent years. After all, since 2009 we have successfully completed all four of our Group-wide programmes in a row and developed our company further. For example, we increased our fee result more than five-fold from CHF 121 million in 2012 to CHF 699 million in 2021.
“We prioritise those areas in our sustainability strategy which we can influence directly.”
Our starting position is promising: in addition to the attractive life business, we have built up an extremely competitive asset management operation. And with our more than 17 000 advisors, we have comprehensive access to the market that sets us apart from the competition.
At the heart of our strategy is our purpose: we enable people to lead a self-determined life. And, in doing so, we show from the financial perspective how this leads to higher earnings quality and further earnings growth for us as a company and for you as shareholders.
We see great potential in all divisions to become even more successful. This also explains our four main strategic thrusts under the new “Swiss Life 2024” Group-wide programme. We want, on the one hand, to deepen existing customer relationships and, on the other, to further expand our advisory and distribution capacity at the same time. Thirdly, we are leveraging our innovative strength and the opportunities offered by digitalisation in all business areas, and thus increasing our efficiency and the quality of our advice. And, last but not least, our fourth strategic thrust: we will anchor sustainability even more consistently in everything we do.
We remain ambitious in our new Group-wide programme. We will also continue to focus on earnings growth going forward. Specifically, this means we want
- to increase the fee result to between CHF 850 and 900 million by 2024;
- to increase the return on equity in each individual year to 10 to 12%;
- to remit significantly more cash to the holding company than in the past – namely CHF 2.8 to 3 billion cumulatively over the next three years;
- to generate an attractive yield on distribution for shareholders by increasing the dividend payout ratio to over 60%.
- In addition, in December 2021 we initiated a new share buyback programme of CHF 1 billion, which is scheduled for completion by May 2023.
Sustainability has been part of our business from the outset – since we were founded more than 160 years ago. And yet sustainability is particularly relevant in the world today, and thus for Swiss Life too. We address this in our new “Swiss Life 2024” Group-wide programme.
We have created a good basis with our sustainability management in recent years for continuous development in asset management and real estate, in our product offering and our advisory expertise, as well as in operational ecology. And, of course, the focus is on tackling climate change and our contribution to achieving the climate goals.
One basic principle applies to us in that regard: we prioritise those areas in our sustainability strategy which we can influence directly, in which we are able to bring about changes ourselves.
Specifically, this means we have defined a broad range of initiatives and evaluation criteria to further embed sustainability in our day-to-day business: in our business activity, in our role as asset owner and manager, in the way we conduct our insurance business and advisory activities, and not least in our role as an employer.
Even if we have achieved a lot in recent years – we still have many ideas and opportunities to improve day by day. We look forward to embarking on the “Swiss Life 2024” journey with all our colleagues. We greatly appreciate that we can count on your support as we do that.
Thank you very much
Chairman of the Board of Directors