The Baloise Group is more than just a traditional insurance company. The changing security, safety and service needs of society in the digital age lie at the heart of its business activities. The 7,900 or so employees of Baloise therefore focus on the wishes of their customers. The best possible customer service, combined with innovative products and services, makes Baloise the first choice for people who want to feel ‘simply safe’. Located at the heart of Europe, with its head office in Basel, the Baloise Group is a provider of prevention, pension, assistance and insurance solutions. Its core markets are Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. In Switzerland, the Group also operates as a specialised financial services provider, offering a combination of insurance and banking services. The Group offers innovative pension products to retail customers throughout Europe from its competence centre in Luxembourg. Bâloise Holding Ltd shares are listed in the main segment of the SIX Swiss Exchange.
Highlights of the 2021 annual financial results for Baloise Switzerland
“The once-in-a-century storms that hit all parts of Switzerland last summer presented the insurance industry with huge challenges. Above all, the workload of our staff in claims processing ratcheted up dramatically with each additional event. Despite the enormous amount of work, we tried to assist our customers as quickly and unbureaucratically as possible. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to our employees for their tireless commitment and their outstanding work,” says Michael Müller, CEO of Baloise Switzerland.
- Strong non-life business with a solid combined ratio despite extensive storm-related claims
The (net) combined ratio for 2021 has been affected primarily by claims relating to storm damage and consequently rose by 0.7 percentage points year on year to a still very solid level of 89.2 per cent. The premium volume in the non-life business once again recorded a healthy year-on-year increase of 1.8 per cent to CHF 1,392.7 million.
- Strong earnings in the life insurance business thanks to the uptrend in the capital markets and improvements in the interest-rate situation
The life insurance business in Switzerland was very profitable in the reporting year and made a significant contribution to the Group’s very good level of earnings. The total value of premiums written increased to CHF 2,727.8 million (up by 3.0 per cent year on year). At CHF 318.3 million, EBIT in the life business was up by 143.9 per cent compared with 2020. For the Perspectiva collective foundation, 2021 was one of the most successful years in its history. At the end of the year, more than 3,800 companies (up by 26 per cent) – representing nearly 16,000 beneficiaries (up by 25 per cent) and assets of just under CHF 1.2 billion (up by 35 per cent) had signed up to Perspectiva.
- Firm focus and expansion of the Home and Mobility ecosystems
In 2021, the Home ecosystem was expanded through the formation of a strategic partnership with the UBS mortgage platform key4. In the Mobility ecosystem, the car sharing business GoMore, in which Baloise holds a stake, expanded its operations to Switzerland. Moreover, Baloise’s spin-off Parcandi was successfully incorporated as a company in Switzerland.
“I am delighted that our combined banking and insurance model is generating added value for our customers. This year, we were once again able to accelerate our growth thanks to the efficient integration of these two sides of the business,” says Jürg Ritz, CEO of Baloise Bank.
- Significant year-on-year profit growth
Profit rose by around 30 per cent year on year to CHF 23.8 million. This robust increase was attributable to strategic growth in the brokerage business (CHF 2.8 million), lower interest expenses (down by CHF 4.0 million) and a stronger business performance (up by CHF 6.5 million).
- Increase in gross interest income
Gross interest income improved by 1.7 per cent thanks to growth in lending and more favourable refinancing terms.
- Positive profit trend in brokerage and services business
The marked acceleration in growth in private banking resulted in profit growth of 13 per cent in the brokerage and services business.
* All figures in accordance with IFRS accounting.
** All figures in accordance with local accounting standards.
Summary of business performance for the Swiss market
Business performance of Baloise Switzerland
|Key figures (CHF million)|
|Business volume of Baloise Switzerland*||4,130.8||4,239.9||2.6|
|Of which: life||2,762.4||2,847.2||3.1|
|Of which: non-life||1,368.4||1,392.7||1.8|
|Profit before borrowing costs and taxes of Baloise Switzerland*||386.3||584.6||51.3|
|Total assets of Baloise Bank**||8,569||8,638||0.8|
|Net profit of Baloise Bank**||18.5||23.8||30|
The power of innovation at Baloise Switzerland in 2021
In 2021, Baloise was once again able to shine with innovative ideas in Switzerland. At the European Efma Awards, its Inshareance concept, a project from Switzerland, was ranked second in the ‘Connected Insurance & Ecosystems’ category. Inshareance is an insurance solution tailored to the increasingly popular practice of sharing. Sharing platforms enable the shared use of goods, which comes with its own specific set of claims risks. To cover these risks, Baloise has designed Inshareance as a modular product for digital sharing platforms. It is based on low premiums, and policies can be taken out in real time using Baloise’s API. In November, this insurance solution was recognised with another second-prize accolade at the Swiss Insurance Innovation Awards.
In addition, Baloise optimised its dialogue with customers in Switzerland through the introduction of a virtual assistant, which uses voice recognition software to avoid long waiting times and unnecessary call forwarding. The virtual assistant can recognise standard German as well as Swiss German dialects. Alongside the online claims reporting system and the personalised messaging service for queries, this tool represents another significant step towards making interactions between customers and Baloise more efficient and more satisfying.
Baloise is also breaking new ground with regard to the recruitment of talented young people in Switzerland. An innovative application concept was developed for the process of filling the ten vocational apprenticeship places at the Basel office in 2022. Students in their last mandatory year of secondary education can sign up for an application day, which provides an opportunity for candidates and Baloise representatives to get to know each other in a relaxed environment.
Baloise Bank introduced a new chat bot in its mobile banking app that guides customers through the processes they want to complete. For example, the chat bot can be used to extend a fixed-rate mortgage or to invest money in a pension fund. This eliminates the need for customers to complete forms and provides them with an intuitive digital alternative to traditional channels that allows them to complete processes on their own.
The Baloise Swiss Property Fund (BSPF) carried out a capital increase of CHF 135 million in August 2021. The issue met with strong demand and was fully subscribed. The proceeds from the capital increase were used to acquire a property portfolio with a value of CHF 185 million for integration into the fund. This transaction further enhanced the quality and diversification of the portfolio. On 1 November, the fund went public on the SIX Swiss Stock Exchange. This step had been planned since the inception of the fund and its IPO proved very popular.
Home and Mobility ecosystems
Baloise is successfully expanding its Home and Mobility ecosystems in Switzerland. In the Home ecosystem, Baloise announced a strategic partnership with the UBS mortgage platform key4 in 2021. A Switzerland-wide pilot project is now under way and the approximately 180 customer advisers who participate in it have already been able to broker a number of mortgages through key4. Baloise will continue to be present in the market as lenders. But the new collaboration provides the additional option of brokering mortgages for owner-occupied properties and investment properties through the key4 platform.
In the Mobility ecosystem, the Danish peer-to-peer car sharing company GoMore, in which Baloise holds a stake, expanded into the Swiss market. Going forward, customers of GoMore in Switzerland will benefit from insurance cover provided by Baloise.
Baloise also brought its first ever spin-off, Parcandi, to the market in the reporting year. This start-up puts the owners of empty parking spaces in touch with drivers looking for somewhere to park. Parcandi enables property owners to rent out their parking spaces simply and flexibly. The company was founded in July 2021 and is based in Basel. Its service is already available at several locations in Switzerland.
Baloise Switzerland – a sustainable business
Baloise Switzerland was named ‘Most Innovative Sustainability Insurer – Switzerland 2021’. The award was presented by Capital Finance International, a leading industry magazine. Among other things, it recognises Baloise’s innovations and partnerships that promote a society focused on long-term thinking and sustainability, as well as the inclusion of value creation considerations in the Simply Safe strategy and Baloise’s ambition to create value for all stakeholders. In addition, a committee was created for the Swiss market that will focus on further developing the corporate governance dimension of sustainability from a strategic perspective. The committee defines and coordinates relevant areas of action, monitors the implementation of sustainability measures at local level and maintains an ongoing dialogue with the equivalent committees of other national units in the Group.