Retirement assets increased eightfold year on year, most of which were attributable to new customers. In total, more than 153,000 policyholders working for 15,000-plus corporate customers in the occupational pensions business now entrust their plan assets to Basler. The large number of new customers was primarily attributable to a competitor withdrawing from the market for comprehensive insurance solutions for occupational pensions.
Unlike 2018, which had been marked by turmoil in the stock markets, 2019 was an excellent year for investments – and for occupational pensions at Basler. Although economic conditions remained difficult, its earnings came to CHF 40.1 million. The payout rate was 93.1 per cent. Moreover, Basler was able to pay an interest rate of 1.00 per cent on all of customers’ retirement assets and allocate CHF 30 million to the surplus fund. The net return on investment was 1.55 per cent.
Nevertheless, the challenges and difficult economic conditions created by the very low level of interest rates are having an impact. The excessively high obligatory conversion rate reduced earnings by CHF 50 million. “We would repeat our call for politicians to adjust the minimum interest rate and the obligatory conversion rate to the prevailing conditions. The package of reforms for occupational pensions provides the ideal opportunity to do so,” says Patric Olivier Zbinden, Head of Corporate Clients.
A priority for Basler is to offer a diverse range of products that meet customers’ individual needs. The portfolio includes everything from reinsurance solutions for pension funds to comprehensive BVG insurance contracts and the partially autonomous pension solution Perspectiva. The latter, a collective foundation for small and medium-sized enterprises in Switzerland, has seen strong growth in recent years, at a much faster rate than the market as a whole. “We will therefore continue expanding Perspectiva. We firmly believe that our partially autonomous offering is, for many of our customers, the optimum solution for their employees’ occupational pensions,” explains Dominik Glaser, Head of Group Life. Comprehensive BVG insurance contracts are another important product that Basler will continue to provide to its customers in future.
During the coronavirus outbreak, retail and corporate clients have been able to rely on Basler, and they can continue to do so. All services have been available without restriction throughout. Furthermore, Basler is providing support for its customers and society in general during the pandemic with various special initiatives and financial assistance, such as extended payment terms for rents and insurance premiums. Basler is also supporting customers in the area of occupational pension provision: “We are temporarily lowering the borrowing rate for occupational pensions to 1 per cent in order to increase our customers liquidity. The new rate is valid until the end of September 2020 and applies to all contracts in the compulsory and voluntary collective foundation,” says Glaser.