The Saanen Bank held its general assembly meeting last Friday. Following a very successful previous year, all the significant business figures have risen by a good three percent. In financial terms, the bank continues to be extremely solid. Also, a dozen employees received long service awards.
This time, when the colourful crowd gathered at the festival tent in Gstaad on a Friday evening in April, it wasn’t to listen to a concert but to attend the annual general meeting of the Saanen Bank.
Not painting a black picture
Even though the bank is facing major challenges in the form of digitalisation, centralisation and regulation, we don't want to paint a black picture, said Victor Steimle, chairman of the board. By contrast, he emphasised that increasing digitalisation brings opportunities. Thanks to digitalisation, Saanenland is no longer out on the sidelines as a region, but "right in with the action". "This gives us more time to dedicate to customer care," enthused Steimle.
No free gifts
“There’s no such thing as free gifts in our industry any more. We’ve had to work hard for our strong figures during the course of the year," emphasised bank director Jürg von Allmen in his presentation. With total assets of CHF 1.3 billion, up by around 80m, they definitely aren't one of the smaller regional banks now but classed as medium-sized.
Business success has increased by a good 3%, with CHF 6.18m after additional voluntary depreciation. The bottom line is an annual profit of CHF 2.5m, which is an increase of 3.1%, commented von Allmen. "We don't want to excel ourselves by achieving the highest possible net profit, but rather to strengthen the capital behind the bank." This has been achieved by generous contributions to the reserves and is also in the interests of the shareholders. The eligible capital reserves of the bank are now a very solid CHF 107m, which, according to von Allmen, is twice the amount of capital actually required. The annual report, the annual financial statements and the statutory auditors report for 2018 were unanimously approved by the general meeting and the board of directors was granted discharge.
Benefits to customers are a priority
There’s been a lot of positive feedback about the introduction of the new e-banking and the mobile app, although some customers aren’t always happy, stated von Allmen.
Since bringing benefits to customers is a priority, last year, the first ATM was installed in Ebnit outside one of the branches. After a few teething problems, this worked well. Additional ATMs are planned in Schönried and at the Saanenmöser station.
A challenging framework and increasing regulatory requirements make life difficult for the bank. However, they are using this as an improvement incentive, said von Allmen. "We believe in the future of our region. So we’ll continue to invest in Saanenland over the next few years.”
As soon as a solution for mail distribution has been found in Saanen, Saanen Bank will take over the Post offices and convert these into meeting zones with customer counters and ATMs. The branches in Lauenen, Gsteig and Schönried are also to be upgraded to meet today’s customer needs. "We’ll get together with the various stakeholder groups in the villages and work out how to meet their needs," confirmed von Allmen.
Based on AvS/Martin Gurtner-Duperrex
Translated by Justine Hewson